07 September 2016

Fighting the Social Factors of Accessibility

Digital content shared through a website is a powerful tool for nonprofit outreach, fundraising, community building, and program delivery.

But what if your message is falling on “deaf ears”?

Currently 1 in 5 Americans have a documented disability. That’s 20% of fundraising opportunities or outreach your organization could be missing. All nonprofits are require to make their site accessible for those with disabilities, read about the basics of making a website accessible here. On top of reaching those with disabilities, nonprofits need to take into account social factors like:

Users who speak another language

Users with low literacy rates

Users who aren’t computer savvy

So organizations should think about going beyond what’s asked of them in the website realm. By not only making their sites user-friendly for those with disabilities, but also those who face social barriers.

With 4.3 Million Hispanics in Florida, there is a clear need for resources in Spanish. Family Network on Disabilities in Florida offers their site in four languages: English, Spanish, Russian, and Haitian Creole. 

Family Network on Disabilities Homepage Header

At the upper right hand corner, you will see the option to see the website in English, Spanish, Russian, and Russian Creole.

When a nonprofit works with those who do not speak English, they should consider making their resources available for them in their native tongue. In doing this, they are ensuring that there is not a barrier between users who speak another language and their services.

Using exceptionally advanced vocabulary in your content can lead your readers to confusion. It’s crucial to acknowledge the level of education that your audience has completed. Your resources could be perfectly articulated and well written while still providing no aid. 

Meanwhile using simple words in your content can lead it to help readers more. They can get what they need from your resources. Try to write content that someone in fourth or fifth grade can understand. The easier your resources are to read, the stronger the impact your organization will have. 

The first paragraph was graded through the Hemingway Editor as a Grade 12 readability. The second paragraph was a Grade 7. Tools like the Hemingway Editor will help you ensure that your content is helpful to those with low literacy rates. Try to create content that is readable to Grade 7 or below.


Creating a homepage overloaded with too much media, a complex navigation bar, and advanced layout will lead users to feel discouraged. Pew Research Center found that “32% of non-internet users said the internet was too difficult to use, including 8% of this group who said they were “too old to learn.” So how can the 32% be reached? Well, Parent’s Place of Maryland does a exemplary job of offering a clean and simple homepage. Having a navigation bar that is easy to use will help users of all ages travel through the site.

Parents' Place of Maryland's Homepage

The navigation bar for this homepage is easy to use. Upon arrival to the site one can find what they are looking for.

A vital part of making websites accessible is understanding your audience and who you wish to reach. Does your mission target low income families? Think about their education levels! Does your organization work with multiple languages? Hire a translator to make your site available in the necessary languages. Putting yourself in the shoes of your users will greatly improve the impact your organization strives to achieve.

What sort of social barriers have you encountered with your organization? What are your favorite tools to surpass it? Tweet us @AmDeeLLC and let us know!

Amar Trivedi

President and founder of AmDee, Amar provides insight of nonprofit technology through occasional guest blogs for AmDee and others. He has been a software developer and architect since the mid-1990s.