Agencies should proactively inquire about workgroup members’ individual needs and offer appropriate accommodations. Accessibility should be included in an agency’s budget so that accommodations can be made to eliminate barriers to workgroup participation. Planning around members’ needs may mitigate their need for reimbursements later on and will ensure the best conditions for effective participation and mutual respect. The following is a list of prompts to consider when forming a workgroup to establish norms around accessibility as it relates to meetings, necessary tools, and general supports. The following prompts are not requirements for agencies, but rather are suggestions that may be helpful in order to pre-empt any costs that could inadvertently be passed on to workgroup members.
- What hardware would a workgroup member be expected to have in order to fully participate in the workgroup (e.g. phone, laptop, printer, webcam, internet access)?
- Can you loan hardware, or reimburse a workgroup member for the purchase of hardware? The mechanics of this process need to be worked out before offering equipment to workgroup members. See examples and templates for a template loan form.
- Devices should have at least 10” screen, be Wi-Fi capable, and include Microsoft Suite, Teams, Zoom, an Internet browser, and Adobe reader. You should also ask the user if other software is needed for accessibility or other purposes.
- If requested, agencies should take steps to provide community members access to the Internet, through a cell phone hotspot, air card, or other solution.
- Besides computers leased for agency employees, good device options include Microsoft Surface, iPad, Android tablet, or Chromebook. Agencies will have to work through the pros and cons of Linux to windows-based computers, which present different security challenges.
- Devices should be wiped and reimaged after each use.
- Can you collaborate with another agency to utilize space and tools/hardware for workgroup members to use?
- What training might workgroup members need to use the technology or tools that are necessary for full workgroup participation?
- In written communication, include full link as text for low to no internet participants using paper copies.
- In written communication, avoid using graphics to convey written text such as images or jpegs with letters and words in them, as screen reading software cannot interpret the words embedded in a graphic image.
Agencies may want to consult with their assigned AAG before loaning equipment, technology, or paying for services.
See the template Technology Check Out form in the examples and templates section.
Ethics review: Workgroup members are not state employees and thus ethics rules related to appropriate use of use of resources are not applicable. Workgroup activities are for the benefit of the state. Technology, services, and equipment agencies check out to community members should be used for the purposes of workgroup tasks, meetings, and events.
- Are in-person meetings scheduled in a location that is easily reached by public transportation?
- Can you offer public transportation passes to workgroup members (such as ORCA card) so they can attend regular in-person meetings?
- Inform members of parking availability and cost in advance.
- If possible, provide members with parking vouchers.
- Advise workgroup members to keep receipts for transportation or parking for reimbursement.
- Inquire about accommodation needs of members in advance.
- Offer meeting materials at least 24 hours in advance.
- Offer meeting materials in both print and digital form with large print options, and in all primary languages used by workgroup members.
- Make use of assistive technology available for members with hearing and visual impairments or for those with learning differences.
- If assistive technology is not available or preferred, offer use of a professional interpreter.
- You may need to request two interpreters in case one person is unable to attend on short notice.
- Request two interpreters for meetings over 30 minutes or schedule breaks for one interpreter every 30 minutes to prevent interpreter fatigue
- If possible, ask the participants who need an ASL interpreter or CART services if they would like to utilize Washington Relay to call in to the meeting or event.
- Ask if the ASL user prefers to use an on-demand Video Relay Service (VRS) app, such as Wavello.
- If the CART captioner is unable to attend on short notice and you are unable to secure another captioner, zoom captioning technology may suffice or you may use the chat feature of your virtual meeting platform of choice.
- If time allows, directly contact vendors on Department of Enterprise Services (DES) State Contracts to find a replacement:
- Designate a person to read written content or describe videos and images.
- Avoid use of jargon and acronyms – this language can be othering and exclusive.
- Avoid assumptions around attendees using their time and funds to attend miscellaneous events such as post-meeting gatherings, dinners, happy hours, or other optional events where, by not attending, they may be missing out on meaningful conversations. Make clear distinction between non-official meetings and other types of interaction towards progress of workgroup.
- Provide a glossary of commonly used acronyms and terms that are relevant to the workgroup.
- Host meetings in Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant accessible buildings.
- Make sure there are inclusive restrooms for people of all genders, people with infants, and ADA compliant restrooms.
- Frequent breaks built into formal agendas e.g. every 45-60 minutes, (so people with disabilities, nursing parents, caregivers, etc. don’t have to ask and out ourselves, or be “That Person”)
- Low to no fragrance use policy
- Mixed lighting – low lighting like lamps, overhead lights off, more natural light
Communicating accessibility options
Your agency or workgroup chair may want to consider including language in scheduling emails that identifies accessibility options for meeting attendees.
Consider the following sample language:
Our agency is committed to hosting accessible events that promote belonging, justice, and dignity. To request communication services (interpreters, written information in other languages, or other services) or accommodations, please call 360.902.3355 or 711 (Telephone Relay Service), or email Access@equity.wa.gov. We encourage participants to make requests at least 14 days in advance of the event to allow time to make the proper arrangements.
Resources on Creating Accessible Meetings and Events
- Accessible links and website for the blind
- Making temporary events accessible
- Create Accessible Meetings | Section508.gov
- Create Accessible Digital Products | Section508.gov
- Accessibility Training | Section508.gov
- Disability Inclusion Network – Inclusive Virtual Meeting Guide
- Requesting a sign language interpreter (DSHS)
- Web Accessibility Font Contrast Checker
- For ASL Interpreter or DSHS Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) System issues, contact DSHS: Berle Ross 360-339-4559 or email@example.com.
- For Master Contract Terms & Conditions issues, contact DES: Antoinette Wynne 360-407-9390 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Relational Partnership Model
Additional resources focused on a relational partnership philosophy are also available or being produced by the Office of Equity and other agencies/groups in Washington. The relational partnership model focuses on empathy-centered collaboration between government and people groups who have been excluded and marginalized by government decisions and actions to undo harm and advance Pro-Equity Anti-Racism (PEAR) outcomes.
Examples of existing and forthcoming work by departments to serve as a complement to these guidelines include:
- Digital Equity Guidelines
- Community Engagement Guidelines
- Universal Access and Belonging Plan
- Relational Partnership Guidelines
- Executive Order 22-02: Achieving Equity in Washington State Government
- Executive Order 22-04: Implementing the Washington State Pro-Equity Anti-Racism (PEAR) Plan & Playbook