How Governments Can Improve Customer Experience with Digital Accessibility
Americans spend an average of 11.5 billion hours per year on required government paperwork. This enormous volume of time creates a considerable administrative burden on the population. Furthermore, this burden is unevenly distributed. Individuals with resource limitations (cognitive, financial, educational, etc.) tend to confront more administrative burdens with less capacity to effectively navigate the demands.
Government agencies are keen to promote accessibility and decrease the administrative burden for several reasons. Not only is the economy weaker when those eligible for support are prevented from receiving it—as people and communities are excluded from spending, safety and stability—but the administrative burden can also cause serious harm to citizens when they are unable to access vital services.
Digital accessibility is also a legal requirement. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires that Federal agency digital content conforms with the accessibility standards set out in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which was recently revised to refer to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.0 Level AA, a standard required for all Federal agencies. Many state governments have also passed legislation requiring the accessibility of digital content. Despite this, many digital government websites have inaccessible content and functionality, resulting in citizen burden.
In this article we explore what everyday administrative burden looks like and how government agencies should address citizen challenges around accessibility.