We are very excited about this weeks staff pick because it has a positive impact for all our clients. Vision Australia launched their EngagementHQ site in early November. Not only is it fantastic to see Vision Australia leap into online community engagement, we could not be prouder that EHQ has been selected for this significant step. We have been feverishly working closely with Vision Australia to make EHQ more accessible for the Blind and Low Vision Community.
Client: Vision Australia
Publish Date: 05 November 2016
Topic: "Participate Vision Australia" is comprised of a variety of projects for people who are blind or have low vision to share information, tips and experiences. The consultations topics range employment, to education and social inclusion.
Tools: Forum, Brainstormer
Widgets: Signup Banner, Photo Gallery, FAQ, Key Dates, Related Projects,
1. The approach: Big kudos to Vision Australia for taking the leap into online community engagement. Many organisations are required to tick a lot of compliance boxes before they are ready to make the move and launch their site. Arguably, this is a lot stricter for Vision Australia than in many other organisation due to their commitment to ensure people who are blind or have low vision have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
2. EHQ's accessibility compliance: This staff pick must also give credit to our development teams' continued commitment to consider WCAG highest standards. Accessibility has always been high on our agenda, but our work with the team from Vision Australia has undoubtedly pushed this to another level and made EHQ one of the most accessible online engagement systems in the world. Read more about our accessibility compliance here.
3. ALT texts: Although we develop EHQ in such a way that all features and functionality is accessible, there are certain areas of EHQ that need the administrators input for full accessibility. One such area is the ALT text for images. An ALT text is used by screen readers when an image is displayed. Because people who are blind or have low vision cannot rely on information to be conveyed just via an image, it is important to provide meaningful ALT text so that the visitor can make sense of what the image is displaying. You can insert your own ALT text in various places in EHQ, for example in any images you use on your homepage or in your project pages. Meaningful ALT text should at the very least describe the text that is part of the image or describe what is visible in the image. The team at Vision Australia have done so wherever applicable.
4. Use of tools: Intuitively, one might think that our Survey or Forum tools may be the best tool to achieve accessibility, simply because of their simplicity, since there is mostly text. However, we always aim to make all tools accessible and credit must go to the team at Vision Australia to explore the use of the Brainstormer and make it the hero tool on most of their project pages. The Brainstormer was also used to collect ideas during a live event, thus combining face to face and online engagement. The Brainstormer has been used for that more and more in recent month which is a great development to watch.
5. Range of engagement: Vision Australia have launched their site with a whole range of projects and consultations topics published. We have emphasized in the past that when you launch a new site or a new project, you should aim to publish multiple engagement opportunities at the same time. Participants who have participated once may just be in the mood to continue to do so, which is why you should give them plenty of opportunities to do so.
For further consideration:
About Us: Although the 'About Us' project page is a great idea, it is a bit light on information and could have done with a bit more detail and FAQs. Also, a News Feed on this page might have been helpful to keep the community updated with whats happening across the site.
Newsletter Sign Up: The 'About Us' page also features a link to an external newsletter subscription. Obviously, we would have liked to see this being done via EHQ, but we understand that sometimes there are cases where an already existing newsletter subscription must be utilised. In that case, the team could have embedded the subscription form in a custom widget as opposed to providing an external link that navigates people away from the site.
OVERALL: We are very proud of this site and so should the team at Vision Australia. Great effort has been undertaken to achieve the best possible accessibility for people who are blind or have low vision, both through EHQ's features as well as meaningful images and ALT text. Full accessibility is a journey that really never ends, so the challenge for all involved will be to maintain the high standards achieved at the time of site launch.
NOTE: The article above is based on a visit to the site on 11 November 2016. Changes made to the project after that date may have altered the appearance of the project.