Practicing Accessibility & Inclusion in Public Engagement

Is Public Engagement Accessible?

Accessibility and project planning must go hand-in-hand. However, do our current public engagement methods support this? Our traditional public engagement practices are not only outdated, but aren’t inclusive.

How can we support our entire community? When gathering quality public engagement is costly and tedious, how can we streamline data to inform everyone about the next park addition or the newest high-rise? We have to take our plans, projects, and council meetings to an online community engagement platform that can be accessible to everyone.

An online public engagement software, like Instant Input, can diversify your audience and result in more inclusive data. Hosting your projects on Instant Input can help promote accessibility, transparency, and inclusion in the public engagement process, all while removing class barriers. Regardless of financial or occupational challenges to attending in-person meetings, finding a ride, or receiving childcare, anyone can submit project feedback directly from a smartphone or desktop. Everyone deserves to participate in quality public engagement, regardless of ulterior challenges.

Online public engagement platforms, such as Instant Input, allow the community to view and send feedback for projects in their area.

Disability Inclusion

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 1 in 4 adults in the United States have a disability. The word “disability” is incredibly broad and encompasses ambulatory, cognitive, auditory, visual, independent living, and self-care disabilities. Some disabilities are visible, like when a person requires the use of a wheelchair, or invisible, like Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). 

To address the much-unspoken topic, the disabled community is under-resourced and underserved by society at large. When taking on a new public project, it’s important to assume that your stakeholders will include people with disabilities, and the project’s planning and execution should create an inclusive environment for everyone.

What Can We Do?

One of the best ways to make your public projects accessible is to adopt participatory design approaches or co-design. Mural describes co-design as “the process of involving multiple stakeholders in the design and development of products, services, or systems with the goal of creating solutions that are more relevant, effective, and satisfying to the people who will use them.”

Applying co-design solutions to public projects could look like working with patients to design healthcare centers and consulting people with mobility impairments when designing a park. Online public engagement software is a great opportunity for community members to feel connected and listened to by local leaders and project owners, too.

The Benefits of Co-Design

It is important to remember that accommodations initially made with disabled people in mind can make life easier for everyone; think of automatic doors, ramps, closed captions, texting… All these innovations have driven society forward in an inclusive way. By acknowledging intersectional identities, you can enhance the longevity, accessibility, and receptiveness of your project.

Not only does this process lead to equitable, user-centered solutions, but it also can help earn buy-in and gain stakeholder trust.

Instant Input Removes Barriers

Instant Input bridges the gap between project owners and stakeholders through its online community engagement platform. By consolidating the public input process, stakeholders in any neighborhood can instantly use Instant Input to find out what’s happening in their community. 

Since citizens can asynchronously interact with developers on their own time, our platform is a more accessible way for community members to get informed and engaged. Instead of rushing to a short, inconvenient city council meeting, citizens can take the time and space to consider all the consequences and benefits of a new project, which project owners can update in real-time. 

Interested in having your next project on Instant Input’s map? Save time, money, and resources while keeping your local community informed– schedule a demo today.

Community Engagement at your Fingertips

Instant Input wants your feedback! We created a new project submission form for communities across the country to submit projects happening in your area. From road closures, detours, building renovations, public park additions, and everything in between– we want it on our project map!