Changes to make city website more accessible

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

JASPER — The City of Jasper’s website will soon undergo changes that will make it easier for all residents to use.

Both the city’s board of public works and safety, and the utility service board recently agreed to evenly split the cost of conducting work that will bring the website — and the resources that are posted to it — up to Americans with Disabilities Act standards. The total price tag was $6,500.

Cale Knies, Jasper’s director of personnel, safety and loss control, explained that the city hopes to run an assessment in the next week that will determine the exact changes that will come.

“We want everybody to be informed of what’s going on in the city,” Knies said. “Either through [the newspaper], or social media, or our website. A lot of people utilize our website, either in town or out of town to gain information. So we want to have everybody be able to access that information.”

Though no complaints have been launched against the site, Knies said he and Mayor Dean Vonderheide were notified of the issue at a seminar. Jasper’s city website is currently designed by eGov Strategies, which is the same company that will conduct an ADA review to determine what on the site needs to be modified.

Even before that assessment is made, Knies explained that it is the city’s goal to make word and PDF documents uploaded on the site — like meeting minutes and agendas — more accessible. Examining color contrasts and other visual elements is also already on their radar.

“They want to archive everything that’s from 2015, ’16 and ’17,” Knies said at last week’s board of public works meeting. “And then update ’18 and ’19. And then also conduct training for our staff to make sure we have the right fonts and sizes, the right colors, and that our meeting minutes can be read or identified clearly to those who have any concerns with what we’re posting.”

The city overhauled its website several years ago. Knies said the new changes that will be implemented are aimed at making sure everything is up to date.

“Hopefully, this update as well will make things accessible to everybody,” Knies said. “Or a little easier to access for everybody.”

According to an online ADA toolkit, common website issues that could hinder individuals with disabilities include posting images without text equivalents, uploading documents in formats that are inaccessible to assistive technologies, and not allowing users to manipulate color and font settings in their web browsers.




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