Many of us take the internet for granted. We connect with our friends, our work, and our favorite online pastimes without giving much thought to the planning and design that underlies our highly interconnected, modern lives.
But for internet users with disabilities, access to internet resources is often far from intuitive and seamless. For those with visual and mobility impairments, auditory screen readers and alternative input devices can go a long way toward getting the information they want. However, accessibility software and hardware only work well when paired with a properly configured website.
In designing our new website, ChangeLab Solutions took accessibility considerations into account and made many decisions aimed at ensuring that all our users can easily connect with the law and policy resources they need.
Listening to Our Audience and Staff
The journey to launching our new website hasn’t been short or easy. Several years ago, our communications team recognized that our old website had become a barrier to understanding the work we do and finding our online resources and tools.
“While the old website was great when we launched it in 2012,” says Leah Roderman, senior digital communications manager at ChangeLab Solutions, “web development and design evolves very rapidly. It quickly became clear that we needed a new website to maximize our organizational impact and properly serve our audience.”
When we solicited feedback from website users, a few primary points for improvement emerged. Our audience wanted to be able to easily browse collections of tools and resources within the same topic area rather than just individual fact sheets and model policies — a feature that did not exist on the old website.
And ChangeLab Solutions staff wanted to know more about our online audience — who is downloading our tools and how they are using them — so they could better tailor new products to users’ needs and offer policy support to complement our existing resource library.
The solution that the communications team and ThinkShout — our website development partners for this project — came up with was to ask users for their email address and information about their work when they download our products.
“All of our law and policy tools are still available free of charge,” says Roderman. “This exchange of information will allow our staff to create better resources in the future and inform our audience of funded technical assistance when we have it available.”
Embracing Web Equity
ChangeLab Solutions is an equity-focused organization, and it is crucial that our new website align with our mission, vision, and guiding principles as well as improve access to our extensive resource library. That’s why we chose ThinkShout as our primary consultant for the building the new website.
“ThinkShout is a leader in creating websites that are accessible for people with disabilities,” says Roderman. “We are grateful for the expertise they brought to this process.”
The new website is also “mobile-friendly” to serve the 30% of our visitors who use smartphones and tablets.
“This is only the beginning of this process,” says Roderman. “Someday, we hope to have our product library optimized for accessibility as well.”
Online equity is both the present and future of web development. ChangeLab Solutions is proud to be in the vanguard of the transition to a fairer and more inclusive internet.
ThinkShout is a certified B corporation that employs “creative strategies and digital solutions to help progressive organizations change the world.”