Dighton, MA Makes Strides in Website Accessibility Compliance With CivicPlus and AudioEye
Before Dighton partnered with CivicPlus, they had little to no digital accessibility and compliance. This significantly impacted the residents who are widely involved in civic engagement and town halls. Workflows were almost entirely manual and paper-based; if there were digital aspects, like the town website, it was mostly widget-based.
“Even if we tried to [be accessible], we simply did not have the means to acquire what was needed to become compliant. We were more like a two on a scale of one to ten.”
– Jonathan Gale, ADA Coordinator, Dighton, MA
Leeanne Kerwin, the Administrative Assistant to the Board of Selectmen, previously worked in Franklin, MA, where the town successfully utilized the CivicPlus Agenda and Meeting Management software to transform its legislative management process digitally. Kerwin shares that Dighton’s compliance process was inconsistent and disorganized — something needed to be changed.
“In terms of accessibility, before, we were almost completely inaccessible. But it was essential to the town that we get there for our residents,” Jonathan Gale, ADA Coordinator, shares.
Bringing In CivicPlus and AudioEye
Since Kerwin previously worked with CivicPlus software, she knew how elevated the system was compared to other vendors regarding integration and ADA compliance. The experience was profound.
“My iPhone is all JAWS (Job Access With Speech) enabled, so if Michael were to post an agenda or a link to the calendar online, I could find it, and I can listen to that agenda,” Gale adds, “We’re still new to this, we’re learning, and our residents are learning.”
Gale then went on to describe how helpful the accessibility settings of Adobe™ can be for those who are visually impaired. The website is now fully ADA-compliant, and the residents have found the updates to be deeply helpful.
Dighton’s residents enjoy how compatible the town website is now with their smartphones and how communication is only one click away. The town government also loves how easy it is to get ahold of the CivicPlus Technical Support team when questions arise. Kerwin added how helpful the team was throughout training on the new software system.
Dighton’s leaders know that ADA compliance is ongoing. For his part, Gale shares that he checks to make sure the audio files from government meetings and minutes are high-quality. Kerwin is constantly looking to see visually how accessible things are online.
– Leeanne Kerwin, Administrative Assistant to the Board of Selectman, Dighton, MA
“Compliance was nonexistent before, so we spend more time checking accessibility. CivicPlus makes it so easy that our entire workflows are more seamless.”
The benefits of having chosen an integrated solution offered by CivicPlus and AudioEye as an existing partnership, rather than working with two separate third parties for website design and accessibility, were worth it.
“Absolutely, there are benefits,” Kerwin smiles, “Having everything integrated is much simpler, and having one technical support team to go to with questions instead of several is ideal. We enjoy having everything in one place.”
The Grant That Made It All Possible
Mullen, Kerwin, and Gale all shared how none of this would be possible without a generous grant from the Massachusetts Office on Disability (MOD). With the pandemic causing time constraints, “CivicPlus was very gracious in working around our tight timelines concerning the grant and training,” Kerwin added, “The amount given to spend by the grant was almost exactly what we needed to bring on AudioEye and CivicPlus.”
– Michael Mullen, Town Administrator, Dighton, MA
“The grant from MOD was what helped Dighton improve its accessibility and reach residents who need accommodations.”
Speaking with the administration of Dighton made it clear how ADA technology like that offered by CivicPlus and AudioEye really can improve quality of life. CivicPlus positively impacted the small farming town and made its leaders feel like they were taking another step toward helping governments work better.