Easter Seals and Guide Dogs for the Blind, with Convio, Inc., Lead Trend Towards Greater Web Site Accessibility and Usability

From training people with disabilities to use accessible online constituent relationship management (eCRM) tools to develop and manage Web content, to creating Web sites that exceed certification standards for accessibility, Easter Seals and Guide Dogs for the Blind, with the help of Convio, Inc., are leading a trend that has ramifications beyond the nonprofit sector.

Convio, Inc. — a trusted partner that leads the way in helping nonprofits use the Internet strategically to get results — provides eCRM and Web content management and tools that integrate with a nonprofit organization's Web site.

At the very forefront of promoting accessibility, Easter Seals advised and inspired Convio to create a fully compliant user interface in the constituent-facing side of its product and develop built-in tools to help content producers maintain and enforce accessibility in the content materials they create.

In addition, Convio partners with Easter Seals to support a unique project that trains people who use assistive technology to be Web content producers using Convio's accessible administrator-facing tools. Funded by a U.S. Department of Commerce Technology Opportunities Program (TOP) grant, the Easter Seals' project graduated its first class of interns this spring, and another five interns begin training next month. At a recent nonprofit technology conference in Washington, D.C. this spring, Easter Seals' TOP intern Beth Finke cautioned developers that "in today's Flash-y, widget-y, smaller-is-better world, we may be leaving behind a huge portion of our potential audience" by not making Web sites fully accessible.

Guide Dogs for the Blind's (GDB) newly redesigned Web site demonstrates the nonprofit organization's leadership in Web accessibility as well. Visually appealing and rich in customized user content, the Web site exceeds National Federation of the Blind's (NFB) certification requirements and is fully compliant with standards established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international consortium that develops interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools).

While stringent standards and the vigilance of the NFB is fueling this trend toward making Web sites more accessible, the inspiration for GDB's Web site re-launch was ethical. "As an organization dedicated to improving quality of life, it was the right thing to do," said CEO Bob Phillips, adding that both accessibility and usability were important to the organization in being a model of best practices.

Convio's commitment to working with nonprofit organizations on Web accessibility extends to after-hours activities as well. This spring, a team of Convio's interactive specialists and developers participated in this year's Accessibility Internet Rally (AIR), an annual accessible Web contest sponsored by Knowability held in conjunction with the popular SXSW Interactive Conference. Convio's team created an accessible Web site using sophisticated multimedia applications in one high-energy day, winning 2nd place.

"There is an assumption that creating accessible Web sites can be costly and difficult, particularly with multimedia applications," said Steve Crescenzo, a corporate communications consultant, editor and columnist for Ragan Communications. "Easter Seals and Guide Dogs for the Blind are proving that by combining strategy with creativity and commitment, creating an accessible Web site can be very cost-effective. When the corporate world learns about these successes, it will increase the pressure and willingness of communicators to revisit their accessibility plans."

About Convio

Convio is a leading provider of software and services to help nonprofits use the Internet strategically to build strong relationships with constituents for driving fundraising, advocacy and other forms of support. Convio has online solutions for fundraising, advocacy, Web content management, event fundraising, ecommerce and email communications. All solutions include the Constituent360™ platform, a sophisticated, online marketing database that centralizes constituent data and integrates with offline databases.

In addition to Easter Seals and Guide Dogs for the Blind, Convio's clients include American Red Cross, American Diabetes Association, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, AVON Foundation, Easter Seals, National Association of REALTORS®, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Sierra Club, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and Thirteen/WNET New York. For more information, please visit www.convio.com.

Press Contact:
Karoline McLaughlin
Director, Corporate Communications
Convio, Inc.

Easter Seals and Guide Dogs for the Blind, with Convio, Inc., Lead Trend Towards Greater Web Site Accessibility and Usability | Convio