GEM2GO – Business solutions for municipalities and cities

FFG verifies how accessible public organizations’ websites and applications are. This is how he got in touch with the GEM2GO team. It was a start rather than a cooperative exchange on this important topic.

Some obstacles are more obvious. For example, the municipal office can only be reached via stairs, excluding people in wheelchairs. Or always rely on others for daily tasks when the pavement is too high. Strictly speaking, this should no longer be the case: EU regulation has been in place for many years, according to which municipalities are also obliged to ensure access.

What some people don’t know: This doesn’t just apply to structural measures. Websites and apps should be designed so that people with disabilities can use them – even if they are visually impaired or blind. Or have to deal with another limitation.

A lot has happened in recent years with digital access. But there is still enough to ensure that everyone has the same opportunity to use the online offer. And it’s not a mainstream topic. In Austria alone, around 400,000 people have a disability permit. Many others have limitations, but are not officially registered: People who have difficulty using a mouse, so use a keyboard to navigate the website. Others have a slight visual impairment, which is especially noticeable in front of a screen. And older people in particular benefit from a seamless internet experience.

Victoria BurnsAccessibility Expert at FFG Research Funding Institute

Public bodies must take all of this into account in their online offerings from 2019. And many more are doing it: “We’re seeing a significant increase in awareness among federal, state and local governments,” says Victoria Burns, access expert at research funding firm FFG. “Many websites have been worked on in recent years.”

See also  The man was corona positive for 631 days

Burns knows what she’s talking about: She’s responsible for overseeing online offerings from the federal government and some federal states. When she notices that a community has too many things to do, she usually seeks a dialogue to find a better solution. Your contact persons are mostly the IT companies responsible for this. That’s how he came in contact with GEM2GO for the first time four years ago.

First: She doesn’t criticize much. But in FFG’s view, the model tests resulted in some suggestions for improvement and further ideas. When Burns finally sat down in front of the GEM2GO panel, he was pleasantly surprised by the reaction from the other side: “My contacts were enthusiastic about the topic.” This first meeting signaled the beginning of a serious exchange process that Burns had originally hoped for.

From an expert’s point of view, GEM2GO is a particularly interesting interaction. After all, more than every second municipality now relies on the comprehensive offer of RIS GmbH – and the trend is increasing. This also means that its recommendations implicitly reach all Austrian communities simultaneously. Through close consultation, barriers that still exist on websites can be gradually and steadily reduced.

At least from a technical perspective. Municipal website maintainers should also take accessibility into account. To give an example: in addition to the all-visible title, there is an “alternative text” describing the depicted subject for the blind and visually impaired. Unlike other CMS programs, GEM2GO requires editors to fill out this field. But how exactly do you create alt text?

See also  "Foolish Propaganda": US Criticism of Kremlin's Doctrines of Attack

Here, too, GEM2GO has another strength: there are plenty of training courses and webinars for everyone working with it. If a question remains unanswered, support is available in a very short time. This is possible because GEM2GO is strongly represented by several collaboration partners in all federal states. For communities, this means: those who rely on GEM2GO (almost) no longer have to worry about the critical issue of accessibility.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *