To successfully engage an entire stakeholder group online including the elderly, disadvantaged, disability-affected and CALD community members is no easy feat. However, it is also 100% necessary in order to gain meaningful community engagement and input about important policy and planning decisions. Accessible Community Engagement Websites
The following includes 10 ways to make your website accessible for all:
- Be 100% sure your website is W3C and WCAG compliant (look at the International Website Accessibility Guidelines for further information).
- Integrate an online process with other traditional engagement methods. Online tools, such as those provided by EngagementHQ, will help broaden and deepen the engagement experience.
- Ask your library to make your project website the default home page on community-accessible computers. Then train local librarians who can facilitate patrons’ engagement with your consultation and encourage contributions.
- Install web-accessible digital kiosks in a public place such as a foyer that has a lot of foot traffic. Make sure your project is set as the default home page and instructions of use are easy and straightforward.
- Have WIFI-enabled devices such as computers or tablets available at all public events and encourage participation with dedicated engagement facilitators.
- Integrate an online translation service, such as the Google translation widget, into your website to ensure that community members across diverse cultural backgrounds can take part in the conversation. Additionally, there is the option to purchase ReadSpeaker software, a text-to-speech digital solution, which enables website content to be voiced and listened to online. This can be a great tool for disability-affected or literacy-supported community members.
- Work with local community centers to promote online community engagement and access to the web for older people.
- Break up large documents into bite-size pieces that can easily be delivered online. Try using infographics, photos, and/or videos to convey relevant information and encourage online sharing.
- If you’re undertaking stakeholder engagement with a small group of people without a reliable computer or internet access, including with disadvantaged communities, why not donate a few laptops or tablets? The gift would say thank you for being involved and leave them with the digital literacy skills and capacity to engage in the future.
- Use your consultation as an opportunity to make a profound difference to a few people’s lives. Treat your project as a capacity building and skills development exercise. Train your stakeholders in civic engagement, computer and internet use and English literacy.