Building community is largely about acceptance and creating an environment that anyone can step into and feel welcomed. In our current era, it is all-important to have a website and to make that website as accessible as possible to any web user—handicapped, disabled, or not.
The United Prevention Coalition of Lewis County, New York had this in mind when they were presented with the option to create a website with additional focus given to accessibility. Without hesitation, Cassie Forbus (UP! Coalition Lewis County Coordinator) said they absolutely needed to have a site developed with accessibility as a priority.
The United Prevention Coalition of Lewis County (UP!) is a group of citizens from Lewis County, New York that works with a $125,000 federal Drug Free Communities grant to prevent alcohol and prescription drug use in youth ages 12-17. They work with parents, community members, agencies, law enforcement, and youth to form partnerships and create opportunities for conversations and community level change.
After learning about the mission and vision of UP! Coalition, Coughlin proposed the creation of a certified accessible website. We later asked Cassie about their decision to make the extra investment, and the following is her response:
"In speaking with Coughlin in the initial planning, we knew we wanted things set up correctly from the get go. UP! works hard to incorporate all voices, opinions, and expertise from our very own community members. The information we provide on the site should be accessible to all our residents and website visitors, and designing the website in that spirit of inclusion goes to the heart of who we are and what we do."
Coughlin spent months researching and training in website accessibility heading into the first quarter of 2019, and we learned a lot about the world of ADA compliance. It was an incredible opportunity to work with UP! on their website and put the training to real-world use. They were one of the first of many to make an accessibility contract with Coughlin. Other big groups to have done so include (but are not limited to):
At the bottom of the Coughlin website and of those companies listed above, you will find a series of badges highlighting the site's level of accessibility and the date of the certification. See the image below as an example (from the UP! website). Visitors of a site will see this and take note of the extra level of investment made by the company to be inclusive. This is great for your company image and helps you avoid an Americans with Disabilities Act related lawsuit (Learn more about the increasing pressure of website accessibility lawsuits in another of our articles - Accessibility Matters).
What is the most exciting thing happening right now or the most exciting news that UP! has in this moment? UP! is planning a Zombie Run/Walk for Drug Prevention which will take place October 12th at the Lewis County Fairgrounds (Time TBD). More details and information will be on the website soon!
How can people support UP! Coalition? We would love to have people check out the website and the compiled resources. Join the newsletter list to receive monthly updates and opportunities in the community to volunteer. And, if you are interested, come to a monthly coalition meeting on the 3rd Thursday of every month!
Check them out here! - https://uplewiscounty.org/.
How was your experience working with Coughlin on a website? Coughlin was patient with us and helped us through all stages of the project, from the lofty “I don’t know what we need“ phase, through the “wow, we have too much stuff, does this even make sense?” phase, and then all the way through to “we have this amazingly beautiful site, now what?” phase. We had constant updates, emails, phone calls and meetings that would benefit even the most phobic of techno-phobs. We are so happy with the way the site looks and functions and the trainings after the fact are helpful as well (as well as knowing that Coughlin is just a LOCAL phone call away!)