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Achieving Digital Inclusion How to Make Local Government Platforms Accessible

Achieving Digital Inclusion

How to Make Local Government Platforms Accessible

Digital inclusion is crucial for creating equitable access to online resources. For local governments, ensuring digital accessibility can not only sometimes be a requirement, but also a commitment to serving all citizens effectively. This article explores critical strategies to make municipal government platforms more accessible and in line with Section 508 and WCAG standards.

Understanding Section 508 and WCAG:

Section 508 is an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which was the first U.S. law to address disability rights. The amendment ensures that persons with disabilities are given the opportunity to access federal digital resources at the same level as everyone else. Similar to Section 508, WCAG is a set of web content accessibility guidelines created to guarantee the inclusion of users with disabilities in digital spaces worldwide.

Touching on the importance of inputting inclusive features like image descriptions on presented images and transcripts or captions on promoted videos, both Section 508 and WCAG have become guidelines for those wishing to establish an all-encompassing digital profile.

Strategies for Enhancing Digital Accessibility:

Strategy #1: Ensure Compatibility with Screen Readers

Screen readers are software programs that allow those with low vision or blindness to access and engage with digital profiles. One way you can enhance the digital accessibility of your local government platforms is by ensuring they are compatible with screen readers.

As millions worldwide rely on screen readers to aid them in navigating online content, securing suitable platforms can broaden local government outreach and create an equal and inclusive environment for all potential visitors. A great way to assess whether your local government platforms are compatible with screen readers is by using an accessibility tester. By examining the suitability of platforms for popular screen readers like NVDA and JAWS, testers like Assistiv Labs allow you to see through the lens of over 96 percent of screen reader users.

Strategy #2: Enable Keyboard Navigation

Keyboard navigation is vital for those with motor impairments and low vision. With the convenience of tapping on a tab key to navigate forward and a spacebar to check and uncheck virtual boxes, it is evident that having the option of navigation through keyboards can improve the efficiency and inclusivity of your local government platforms.

So, how can you ensure that your municipal government platforms are navigable through keyboards? Good news! Keyboard accessibility is easy to assess. Anyone with the internet and a keyboard can do it! By placing your cursor on the address bar of a browser and tapping on your tab key, you can start assessing your platform’s keyboard navigation ability and more.

Strategy #3: Insert Image Descriptions on Displayed Images

Image descriptions, or alt text, are written words describing an image’s content to assist those who use screen readers. In order for your local government to truly produce an all-inclusive platform, it is essential to ensure that image descriptions are a part of it. It can be used on an array of articles, from digital documents to websites, and fully detailed descriptions of displayed images allow a large part of the population to experience the content presented to them the best they can.

When writing image descriptions for your local government platforms, it is crucial to keep several things in mind. One of which is that the descriptions should be clear and concise. It is important to paint enough of a picture so that an understanding of the overall image can be secured. An example of this could be describing a person’s facial expression in an image. Simply detailing a person’s presence and facial expression in an image can give the part of the audience who may rely on it a clue about the overall happenings of the image, creating a more inclusive space.

Strategy #4: Secure Captions on Presented Videos

Captions are synchronized texts that represent audio information. Created to assist those who are hearing impaired, the texts can provide a clear understanding of content in various mediums, from presented videos to audio recordings. However, not only those who are hard of hearing enjoy captions.

With more than 50 percent of Americans using them, captions have become a popular method of ensuring clarity when actively listening to audio. So, if you want your local government platforms to be all-encompassing, providing captions is one way to go! A great way to do that is by hiring an accomplished editor. Websites like Fiverr and Upwork offer a multitude of options when looking for freelance video editors who can make your videos more accessible and up to date.

Strategy #5: Keep an Eye on the Contrast of the Colors Used

So, what is color contrast? And why should you keep an eye on it? Color contrast is the ability of one color to stand out when put up against another. For those with visual impairments, viewing low-contrast colors can sometimes be challenging. To fully improve the accessibility of your local government platforms, it is vital to ensure that the colors used have a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1.

One way you can assess the contrast of the colors used on your local government platforms is by using a color contrast checker. Contrast checkers like Web AIM and Accessible Web are significant tools that aid people in identifying whether their choice of colors is inclusive and accessible to all.

As we move forward, it becomes evident that digital inclusion is something that all forms of government should consider when creating their public platforms. Promoting accessibility not only helps those with disabilities overcome barriers but also improves the experience of platform users and reflects on our values as a union. After all, Stevie Wonder once said, “We need to make every single thing accessible to every single person with a disability.”

Ensure your government platforms meet all the accessibility tips and tricks mentioned above with ease! Communications and media agencies like PivotPath are here to help.

Renowned for delivering exceptional service to government clients, PivotPath can make your platforms more inclusive in no time.

For any inquiries, visit pivotpathdigital.com.

Written by Niema Hussain 2024

What’s HOT in Nonprofit Communication Trends?

strategy

How to Communicate with your Non-Profit Organization (The New Trends) 

Nonprofits have seen a significant change in their marketing strategies, communication, and fundraising since the pandemic impacted their organizations. They have been creative in planning their communication with others and what that will look like post-pandemic. Look to see What’s Hot in Nonprofit Communication Trends.

communicating with your team members effectively
University students talking to their teacher while learning the lecture over the Internet at the campus.

The Importance of Time Management for your Nonprofit 

The pandemic took a toll on many companies in regard to planning the future of their business. Most goals were put on hold for a year or even longer. Companies are still apprehensive about planning due to the uncertainty of post-pandemic life. The company needs to manage its time efficiently so it can work towards completing the goals it did not get to finish before the pandemic. Employees and volunteers are also returning to the office after many months of working from home, which may come with distractions.

Virtual is the New Normal for Communication in your Nonprofit 

What’s Hot in Nonprofit Communication Trends? A significant change in communication between organizations has been the use of virtual meetings. If it weren’t for zoom or FaceTime, most sessions would not have been as informative without face-to-face contact with people. Nonprofits have focused on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok to market to people. Social media has become a place for all ages to stay up-to-date on the news and find entertainment for hours on end. Nonprofits are still strategizing on better ways to communicate with others since COVID restrictions are easing up around the world. However, they may still try to utilize some of the marketing and communication strategies they learned from the pandemic into the future of their organizations. This will allow them to reach a broad audience that supports their organization and mission.

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PivotPath’s #CharityFriday Highlights: CPCSL

Compassion for Peace and Child Survival- Sierra Leone (CPCS-SL or “Compassion”) is a nonprofit specializing in the intervention of humanity through education, advocacy, and rehabilitation in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

Compassion seeks to aid men, women and children in bridging the gap between poverty and sustainable prosperity. To accomplish these objectives the organization relies on their staff’s expertise, donor engagement and execution of targeted programming.

CPCS-SL is an organization at the heart of believing that a wave of kindness can turn into an ocean of contagious goodness. The primary goal is to serve, advocate, educate and provide rehabilitation services in Sierra Leone through global partnerships. 

The nonprofit has several ongoing projects focusing on the areas of intervention, concentration and specialization:

Project Learn was the inception of implementations efforts, where CPCS-SL partners with school systems, individuals and social workers to ensure children receive an exceptional education.

As a subset, Project “Women Empowerment” seeks to empower marginalized women by providing a voice in matters that affect their ability to contribute in society. The project also provides educational and financial literacy trainings and provision of livestock for agricultural use.

As an organization, we do not believe nor practice autonomism because we have adopted the age old african proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child. In our case it takes a global community to solve individual problems.

Willietta Gombeh, Founder of CPCS-SL

In 2017, Sierra Leone was devastated by a major flood killing and displacing hundreds of people.

During this time, CPCS-SL increased their online visibility by connecting with donors via social media pages such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Gofundme. By effectively utilizing these tools, they were able to not only raise funds but gain new donorship and partnership with other local and international organizations.

Within the course of a month, they raised over $5,000. The outpour of donations promoted CPCS-SL to be one of the first responders to this disaster, as well as one of the leaders in the rehabilitation process for these individuals.

In addition to meeting their primary needs (food, clothing, and temporary shelter), CPCS-SL also provided individuals with stipends and medical assistance. CPCS-SL utilized social media as the leading way to engage their partners, recruit new donorship and direct fundings to humanitarian efforts.

The primary mission of nonprofits is to make a positive impact. And brand marketing aids organizations in deepening the impact they make. Willietta and her team have clarified their goals, transformed their mission through the power of storytelling, and utilized social media to align with targeted audiences. 

Whether you’re entrepreneur, nonprofit founder, or nation, branding is such an integral part of successful growth. Contact us today so we can assist you on your journey and pivot your path.

PivotPath’s #CharityFriday Highlights: Lift a Village

In light of World Refugee Day yesterday, we not only highlight an amazing nonprofit for this week’s #CharityFriday but also a founder with deep ties to the refugee population in Houston, Texas and abroad.

The Lift Our Village nonprofit was founded in 2014 by Aisha Koroma, a Sierra Leonean born Social Worker and Mental Health Professional raised in Houston, Texas, USA. Having experienced a life of hardship growing up in Sierra Leone like many of the children in our program, Aisha has always been dismayed by the poor standard of education available to underprivileged children in Africa.

In 1996, Aisha and her family fled Sierra Leone as a result of the country’s civil war that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands.

The family settled in Senegal where Aisha continued her primary education in an alternative school established for refugee children. In the year 2000 at age 14, Aisha and her family were resettled in the United States and has been working to serve the underprivileged ever since. 

In the summer of 2012, Aisha traveled to Sierra Leone as a volunteer for A-Scholars International, a UK based organization with a shared mission. Upon her return to the United States, she knew she had found her purpose.  Her passion for transforming lives through education and creating social change for children across the globe is invaluable.

Since 2014, the nonprofit Lift a Village has provided more than 400 disadvantaged children ages 6-18, from kindergarten to 12th grade; with a personal education program tailored specifically to their needs. This holistic approach enables children to break the cycle of poverty and reach their full potential.

Social media has played a great role in spreading our mission to our targeted audience. We utilize platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to educate others about our mission; share updates on programs/services/activities; as well as soliciting donations. Lift a Village is not a grant funded organization so all our programs and activities are funded by our Founder, executive team, and donations from the general public.

Aisha Koroma, Founder of Lift of Village

The primary mission of nonprofits is to make a positive impact. And brand marketing aids organizations in deepening the impact they make. Aisha and her team have clarified their goals, transformed their mission through the power of storytelling, and utilized social media to align with targeted audiences. 

Whether you’re entrepreneur , nonprofit founder, or political leader, branding is such an integral part of successful growth. Contact us today so we can assist you on your journey and pivot your path.

PivotPath’s #CharityFriday Features: Focus Our Future

Focus Our Future, Inc. is a non-profit organization that helps student-athletes prepare for life after sport for the betterment of communities around the world.

The organization’s goal is to offer services that assist student-athletes with their transition from sport to life-after-sports by exercising our organizational values to be the B.E.S.T: (Blessing to others; Encourage student-athletes; Share time and resources; Teach others)

Their Story

In 2013, Greg Ford challenged Kevin Watson, a young aspiring Track and Field coach, former student-athlete and working professional. Greg wanted Kevin to make a difference in the lives of the student-athletes that he trains. He not only called Kevin to help athletes in sport but assist the athletes outside of the sport. After some consideration, Kevin became inspired to support student-athletes in and out of their respective sports. As a result, they created an organization that addressing the needs of student-athletes. These areas are focused on while they are in school in addition to after they finish participating in their respective sports.

Photo Cred: Focus Our Future

Today, Focus Our Future, Inc. exists with programs such as Focus Our Future (r) Program and Future Flyers.

Focus Our Future has an extremely robust digital footprint, utilizing their website and social media to maximize their online presence. The up-to-date website provides a host of information ranging from project pictures, press releases, videos (website and Youtube), publications, and features. The organization was also featured in a the Richmond Free Press, leading to an acknowledgement from Jennifer McClellan, a member of the Senate of Virginia 9th District for their community leadership.

In addition to their digital presence, Focus Our Future also utilizes the power of volunteers through recruitment from VolunteerMatch. Volunteers and interns are a great way to share an organization’s mission and further recruit without spending too much of the overall budget.

Photo Cred: Focus Our Future

Focus Our Future is just one example of how nonprofit organizations successfully use digital marketing to increase its online presence and improve its chances of securing new and recurring gifts from supporters and potential supporters. Whether it be via social media marketing or through videos and publications, supports are more receptive to learning about recent activities once you’ve successfully shared your story.

Let PivotPath help you share your story.

Learn more details about our programs by visiting www.focusourfuture.org.

PivotPath’s #CharityFriday Features: Hello, My Name is King.

When you know your name, you should hang on to it, for unless it is noted down and remembered, it will die when you do.” Toni Morrison

This week, PivotPath’s #CharityFriday features an amazing nonprofit impacting global communities: Hello, My Name Is King (HMNK). The nonprofit’s mission is to empower men and boys of color to challenge themselves, break barriers, and make a difference.

HMNK’s vision is a positive global movement that serves as a learning and bonding experience for people of all races and backgrounds.

Time and time again nonprofit professionals state how marketing agencies don’t fit within their annual budget. Because of this, we asked HMNK’s talented and heart driven founder, Whitney Stovall, how she’s utilized marketing to spread her mission and connect her audience (and donors) to her story.

“We were born on social media, what started as an Instagram campaign grew into a nonprofit. Since then I’ve continued to use social media to spread our message and reach volunteers. In turn, a substantial percentage of our fundraising dollars, new partnerships, and supporters are people who’ve found us on social media.”

Whitney Stovall, Founder of Hello, My Name is King

Being confident in your organization’s direction is key to a successful marketing program. Organizations like HMNK has mastered The Art of Storytelling and connect with their audience in a way that resonates with them, creating loyal and passionate supporters, volunteers, and donors. For more information or to join the Hello My Name is King movement, visit hellomynameisking.org.

Charity Friday Feature: Lift Up

This week, we highlight a nonprofit extremely dear to our hearts: Lift Up.

Lift Up is a nonprofit organization that allocates 100% of public donations away. Donors can choose which project 100% of their funds are allocated to, and see the impact their generosity makes around the world. Lift Up’s mission is to “Lift Up tangible projects with the greatest impact around the world”, with a vision of “[exist(ing)] to bring healing to a hurting world.

The organization caught our eye with its heart-felt storytelling and social media marketing. Lift Up uses Social media, Google AdWords and the hashtag #LiftUpFridays, a day where donors share and spread awareness of the organization’s impact, posting Lift Up’s swag on their personal pages. This marketing strategy not only helps spread the nonprofit’s societal impact, but also increases the viewership, followers, and enhanced branding.

Learn more about this amazing organization at weliftup.org!

Whether you have a large marketing budget and ample time on your hands, or are just doing the best with the resources you have,  we have several proven (and easily implemented) marketing tips that you can use to boost conversions, connect with your audience, and save you a pretty penny. 

Being confident in your organization’s direction is key to a successful marketing program no matter what your budget is. You have to start somewhere, right? With PivotPath’s help, you can take advantage of the open source tools and software in the market might just be a good starting point. Converted by your message, your client base will want to share what they’ve found.

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