Case Study: City of Portsmouth, VA
Boosts Access to Online Citizen Services
The City of Portsmouth, VA is leading the way in digital services for citizens. How did the City meet and exceed regulatory requirements related to the accessibility of online services for citizens of all abilities?
The City modernized its websites with a proven web hosting and content management platform from CivicPlus, incorporating a cutting-edge accessibility solution from AudioEye. Today, all visitors to the City’s website can activate powerful accessibility tools at the touch of a button, while automated scanning and expert engineers from AudioEye help rapidly detect and remediate back-end issues.
Every year, digital services become more tightly entwined in the day-to-day lives of millions of Americans. For the City of Portsmouth, VA, the growth of the digital channel represents an opportunity to deliver more effective and responsive municipal services to all citizens.
Daniel Jones, Chief Information Officer at the City of Portsmouth, begins: “Over the past decade, we’ve seen IT shift from an internal service to an integral component of our citizen-facing services. In addition to providing free Wi-Fi in the City Center, we now offer websites and mobile apps that allow citizens to apply for permits, pay property taxes, find out about events in their local area and more.”
Enables full compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, delivering equality of access to online services.
Enhances usability, providing a fully featured Toolbar and Compliance certification.
Delivers continuous scanning for accessibility issues, helping to ensure rapid detection and remediation as web content changes and accessibility standards evolve.
Title II of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 mandate government organizations to provide equal access to services for people living with disabilities. Today, this legislation applies to the digital as well as the physical world—making online accessibility a must for government organizations.
“To fulfill our mission of delivering exceptional services to citizens, our websites and mobile apps must be reliable, available and accessible to all,” continues Daniel Jones. “While the ADA and Rehabilitation Act represent major steps forward in equity of access for people with disabilities, we knew that meeting the spirit—not just the letter—of the law would be crucial to actually make a difference in peoples’ lives. We wanted to go beyond the minimum requirements for regulatory compliance and deliver the same outstanding digital experience to all users, regardless of their abilities.”
Building on Solid Foundations
Like many forward-looking local government organizations, the City of Portsmouth relies on the CivicPlus platform—a leading third-party solution and AudioEye partner—to host, maintain and manage its online content.
“Using the CivicPlus platform and the CivicEngage content management solution empowers our departments to publish their own content, which frees IT specialists to focus on developing value-added services,” comments Daniel Jones. “In partnership with CivicPlus, we explored the best way to meet and exceed the accessibility requirements of Title III and Section 508.”
After a thorough review of several accessibility solutions, the City of Portsmouth selected AudioEye Managed. Combining both automated and human-led back-end scanning for potential code and content issues with a proven front-end Toolbar, the AudioEye solution offers an end-to-end approach to digital accessibility.
“When CivicPlus showed us the AudioEye solution, we immediately recognized its potential to transform the digital experience for users with disabilities,” recalls Daniel Jones. “Crucially, the AudioEye solution is continually scanning our websites, which enables CivicPlus to rapidly detect and remediate potential accessibility issues. What also struck us was how effective the AudioEye Accessibility Toolbar is for enhancing usability. Using the Toolbar, users can dynamically change the presentation of the website, including changing font, text color and contrast settings.”
We are 100% confident we’ve found a partnership that will support our digital accessibility requirements for the long term.”
Chief Information Officer, City of Portsmouth
Fast Track to Compliance
From day one of signing up with AudioEye, the City of Portsmouth was protected from legal action and rapidly improving its accessibility. Shortly after, the City had successfully deployed the AudioEye Toolbar to all four of its digital properties. After full implementation, the City attained full AudioEye Trusted Certification—detailing and validating its commitment to digital inclusion and its conformance with principles of inclusive design and the related laws, mandates and guidelines.
“We are constantly adding new content and new subsites, which means accessibility is always going to be a moving target,” continues Daniel Jones. “To help ensure that we’re achieving our accessibility objectives, we’ve assigned and trained content managers in each department. By educating our people on the best practices for publishing web content, we’re making accessibility a fundamental part of our working culture.”
With the CivicPlus web platform and AudioEye accessibility solution, the City of Portsmouth is realizing its goal of delivering responsive, high-quality digital services to citizens of all abilities.“ The regulatory requirements and best practices around accessibility are continually evolving, and it simply wouldn’t be feasible for us to keep up with those changes on our own without assigning an entire team to work on it full time,” explains Daniel Jones.
“Thanks to AudioEye, we have the peace of mind that our digital properties are accessible to everyone in the community, and to a standard that goes far beyond the minimum requirements of Title II and Section 508. In turn, we’re reclaiming valuable time that we can devote to developing innovative services for citizens.”
Full Compliance, Reduced Risk
As the U.S. website continues to maximize conformance to the WCAG, the consumer electronics company is compliant with the required contractor web accessibility standards for state and federal agencies, enabling it to continue to work with government agencies and significantly reduce its risk of website accessibility litigation. “With WCAG conformity, our site is accessible for people using industry-standard assistive technologies such as the JAWS® screen reader,” says the spokesperson.
“And as the regulatory standards are updated, AudioEye updates its processes to stay ahead of any changes, so that we don’t need to have that competence in-house.”
The spokesperson adds, “Working with AudioEye enabled us to achieve compliance faster and more cost effectively than we thought possible. And as we move forward, AudioEye maintains our compliance without slowing down the launch of new site content or requiring us to shift priorities from other projects. We can focus on our business with peace of mind, knowing we have an expert watching our back.”
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