How to Ensure Strong Accessibility for Your Community

Lena Eisenstein

In today's world, we live and work in a fast-paced digital age. Municipal governments are often the last to embrace digitization, which doesn't need to be the case. What they need is a company that offers modern governance tools that place accessibility at the hands of today's council members and leadership teams. Digital tools are also available to ensure that citizens, including disabled citizens, have strong accessibility to information about the community they live in.

Government entities at all levels are required to prevent discrimination and provide equal opportunities for people with disabilities. iCompass, a Diligent brand, is a modern governance company that puts the necessary tools and intelligence at the fingertips of today's council members and leadership teams.

A Fresh Perspective Creates an Openness Toward Modern Governance

There are a few modern governance principles that haven't changed, despite the fact that governance is dynamic and always changing.

What exactly does modern governance mean? Modern governance means empowering government leaders with the necessary technology, insights, and processes to enhance good governance principles and succeed in today's fast-paced digital age. Modern governance alerts local government officials to issues that send up red flags and prompt them to ask better questions. Modern governance means having a digital platform that provides built-in security to diminish cyber risk, protect data, and keep the flow of business running smoothly. Integrated digital solutions provide cohesiveness of applications and processes, which creates efficiency for everyone involved.

Modern governance strategies also serve and protect the public by providing them with transparency, accountability, and giving them a steady flow of information from their community leadership. Digital solutions inform citizens about the many ways they can engage with their community.

How Can Municipal Governments Apply a Modern Governance Approach to Community Service?

Many of a local government's processes and protocols are steeped in tradition and are part of the community's history. It's important to embrace the past and it's just as important to take the best of what the current times offer. After an election, new council members need to get up to speed with the community's legacy. They also bring a fresh perspective to the council chambers about how the council could do things better. New methods, such as using digital tools can open the door to new efficiencies and increased citizen engagement. By reviewing a municipal government's structure and priorities, local governments can re-establish priorities and identify areas where technology can help them make some improvements.

Digital tools like iCompass Meeting Manager give municipal governments the ability to align council member skills with long-term strategy. While diversity isn't a requirement for municipal government councils, it is an advantage in identifying the gaps, skills, and perspectives that councils need to address the needs of the community, as well as address any potential conflicts of interest.

With the sophistication of cybercrime, many municipal governments feel defeated in protecting their systems before they've even tried. Digital tools can help to improve visibility around key risks and highlight opportunities. Modern governance solutions help to keep municipal councils on track with their goals. Also, digital tools make it easier to provide transparency and ensure compliance with laws and regulations. While many council members believe they're getting familiar enough with technology to increase efficiency, they're overlooking some of the easy internet-related mistakes like using personal email accounts to share sensitive, confidential information.

For municipal boards, discussing business outside of meetings that require public notice violates open meeting laws and places council meeting business at risk. Digital meeting management programs like Meeting Manager centralize collaboration and communication. Role-based authorizations limit access to information to those who need it while offering public access to materials approved for public sharing.

Municipal Government Accessibility for Disabled Citizens

Every municipality has disabled individuals living in it. In fact, about 18.7% of the U.S. population has some type of disability that impairs their ability to access information online. It's just as important for disabled individuals to take advantage of community services and feel like they're a viable part of the community.

Local governments and the services they provide exist to serve their constituents. Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to eliminating access to information for people with disabilities because of technology barriers. The law applies to any federal government website and the site of any organization that either does business with the federal government of accepts federal funds from them. Most municipal governments meet this criterion and are legally required to comply with Section 508. At some point in the future, this law will be replaced by an international standard in the future.

WC3 is the World Wide Web Consortium. This group sets accessibility standards for the internet for people with disabilities so that internet content can be used equally by everyone. Website information should be perceivable, which means that users should be able to perceive, or be aware of the content that's being presented. Accessibility also refers to the fact that users should be able navigate, find, and interact with web content. Web users should be able to comprehend all interactions and content. Modern governance accounts for providing them with a municipal government website that's easy to navigate and retrieve information and that they can understand.

In addition, content on municipal websites must be strong enough that citizens can interpret it widely, even for those who use assistive technology now and in the future as technologies advance. Aren't these the same things everyone wants in a local government website?

Good governance matters in local governments just as much as businesses. iCompass, which falls under the umbrella of Diligent Corporation, is committed to offering you modern governance solutions to life. Good and bad decisions by local governments impact citizens and government employees every day. Modern governance tools like Meeting Manager, Video Manager HD and the other products that iCompass provides gives municipal council members the tools they need to make wise decisions and do the right thing for everyone who lives in and visits their communities.

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Lena Eisenstein
Lena Eisenstein is a former Manager at Diligent. Her expertise in mission-driven organizations, including nonprofits, school boards and local governments, centers on how technology and modern governance best practices empower leaders at these organizations to serve their communities with efficiency and purpose.