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Bridging the Digital Divide: How Accessible Websites Make Local Government More Inclusive

A mockup of the City of Princeton website displayed on a laptop and smartphone. The background shows a photo of Mercer Street in Princeton under a cyan overlay.
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Imagine a resident needing to apply for a building permit, but they can’t access the online application because the website uses poor color contrast. This is just one example of how inaccessible local government websites create barriers for a significant portion of the population.

In the United States alone, over 61 million adults live with a disability according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When local government websites lack accessibility features, these citizens face significant challenges accessing essential information and services online. From permit applications and public transportation schedules to voting information and community resources, inaccessible websites can create a digital divide that hinders civic engagement and participation. Or worse, these users may not be able to access information and important public services in a time of need. Accessibility in government websites is important because it helps make sure everyone in your community feels welcome and finds what they need.

The Importance of Website Accessibility

Website accessibility ensures that everyone, regardless of ability, can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with a website. Accessible government websites benefit not only citizens with disabilities but also:

  • Users with situational impairments (e.g., temporary vision issues, using a mobile device in low light)
  • Older adults whose vision or dexterity may decline with age
  • Users with non-traditional browsing methods (e.g., screen readers, voice commands)

By creating accessible websites, local governments can:

In playing such an important role for your local government website, accessibility cannot be overlooked.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

If you’re convinced of the importance of accessible websites, how do you achieve this? What are the benchmarks for accessibility? The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) provide internationally recognized standards for website accessibility. These guidelines provide many specific features and objectives to maintain in your site to ensure it’s a valuable resource to all. Following WCAG ensures your website is accessible to a wider audience and meets legal requirements.

WCAG guidelines outline specific criteria for making content Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust (POUR). If the content of your website meets these objectives, you’ll go a long way toward ensuring your website provides a valuable service to all in your community.

Taking Action for Accessible Websites

Local governments have a responsibility to ensure their websites are accessible to all citizens. WCAG standards aren’t just an arbitrary hoop to jump through. They advocate for those in your constituency who may have greater challenges in using digital content. They protect their rights to receive crucial public services and information in a usable and approachable way. For all these reasons and more, accessible websites are a significant part of meeting your government’s mission.

This isn’t a task you need to handle on your own. Reputable digital marketing agencies specialize in creating accessible websites that meet WCAG standards and integrate best practices for inclusivity.

Ready To Bridge the Digital Divide in Your Community? Starry Eyes Media Is Here To Help!

Contact Starry Eyes Media today for a free consultation and accessibility audit of your website. Our team specializes in website accessibility best practices and can guide you on making your local government services available to everyone. But that’s not all! Starry Eyes Media offers a range of creative services tailored for local government agencies and economic development organizations. From comprehensive plan design and formatting to accessible printed municipal forms (think business license applications, certificate of occupancy inspection applications, etc.), and of course, top-notch website development, hosting, and management, we’ve got you covered. Explore our Local Government Creative Services page for more details.

Upcoming in this Series:

This blog post is the first in a series exploring different aspects of website accessibility for local governments. Stay tuned for future articles that will delve deeper into:

Meet Jordan
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Bridging the Digital Divide: How Accessible Websites Make Local Government More Inclusive

by | May 21, 2024 | Economic Development, Government, Learning, Web Design

Jordan is the Content Marketer and Designer at Starry Eyes, helping with creative projects as well as social media planning, market research, and SEO. He is obsessed with books, soccer, pottery, and various nerdy things. Jordan is a bit of a hipster and is still coming to terms with that. Big fan of trees.

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