Accessible online community engagement doesn’t need to be difficult, but it is essential.
Compliance with global standards for website accessibility is law in many jurisdictions. Ok, so it’s pretty unlikely you are going to end up in court for failing to meet accessibility guidelines (though it does happen) but there are plenty of reasons for taking accessibility standards seriously other than legal and moral obligations.
Meeting some sensible standards on accessibility can help you to engage more of your community. Accessible websites are easier to use for those with slow web connections, old browsers, as well as those with disabilities. These groups probably add up to some pretty significant sections of your community and you need to include them in your online engagement process. Some of these people may also not find it easy to attend face to face events – imagine how frustrating it must be for them if you provide a website to engage with them but they cannot access or properly interact with it.
This is why we build EngagementHQ to the WCAG 2.0 AA standard and work hard to ensure that we adhere to best practice with all our site development work. It’s a work in progress, checking and rechecking and learning better ways, so there is no resting on our laurels here.
Despite all the work we do, sometimes our client’s sites fail to meet accessibility requirements because of the way in which they load content to the site. Take an accessible site and fill it with uncaptioned videos and PDFs and you no longer have an accessible site. In the past we’ve given guidance to clients on this and we thought an info-graphic might help to emphasize how simple it can be to make content more accessible.
Photo credit: Navajo Bridge by www.GlynLowe.com
Header: Overcoming Accessibility issues when engaging your community online
WCAG 2.0 compliance
Ensure any tools you use online are compliant with WCAG 2.0 or equivalent
Adding captions to your video will be greatly appreciated by hearing impaired visitors
Ensure your documents are in an accessible format
They say a picture says a thousand words and choosing the right imagery can communicate your messages to everyone better, including those for whom reading may not be easy or English is not their first language.
Alt Text on Images
Make sure you add alt text tags to all your images so page readers can describe your pages to the vision impaired
Think about how you may use translation services to make your consultation more accessible to all groups in your community
Nothing beats someone actually there to guide you through the process. Identify what groups may require assistance and then be available to show them how it’s done.
Thanks for getting all the way to bottom! Subscribe to our monthly digest newsletter if you’d like to be kept up to date about community engagement practice globally. Take a look at our two product websites: EngagementHQ if you need a complete online engagement solution, and BudgetAllocator if you need a participatory budgeting solution. Or get in touch if you have a story idea you think is worth sharing.