The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) not only covers for the financial aid required by the disabled segment of the Australian population but also aims at connection-building, education, and awareness for the disabled in every way possible to improve accessibility to all kinds of community activities and events for them. The program of the NDIS that specifically aims to solve all these awareness and education-related problems is known as the Information, Linkages, and Capacity Building (ILC) program. It is a separate funding scheme in which the qualifying organizations that can meet these purposes are provided with funding to carry out these responsibilities. The main purposes of the NDIS ILC program are helping the disabled part of the community be more aware, connected, and accessible.
While NDIS websites are improving accessibility to NDIS funding services for the disabled, the future ILC websites may be able to serve a lot of the purposes of the ILC program solely on the basis of their web platform. Let us review why and how a website can help your organization qualify for ILC funding and also help you fulfil the responsibilities of an ILC provider in terms of the criteria set by the NDIS itself and some logic and reasoning.
According to the NDIS, the ILC program is meant to have the following outcomes for the disabled segment of the community:
- People with disability have the knowledge, skills and confidence to participate in and contribute to the community
- People with disability are connected and have the information they need to make choices and decisions
- People with disability use and benefit from the same mainstream services as everyone else
- People with disability use and benefit from the same community activities as everyone else.
The First Key – Information
The word ILC itself conveys its three most important purposes:
Now, let us review the first key out of these three keys and determine what it means. It refers to spreading the much-needed awareness of better opportunities for social empowerment and confidence-building among the disabled, keeping them informed about the opportunities and options that they have to connect with the community and enjoy a better life, and educating the disabled in a way that helps them move towards betterment, positivity, and collaboration.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that all these purposes are best served in the modern age by the internet. It is not the time to be distributing pamphlets – not to mention that most of the disabled people may not be reached in such a scheme or they may find the printed text hard to decipher. So, what is the main and the most important source of information for all people – disabled or otherwise – that is used the most frequently and the most avidly? Websites. Yes, nothing can better serve the purpose of providing information to the disabled in a way that is optimized to be suitable for them.
Websites can be used to convey all kinds of informative content to them and make them more aware of what they CAN do about certain social problems that they might be facing – a lack of confidence, facilities, and opportunities being one of them. By creating web content optimized for the needs of the disabled community and publishing it on a website that is specifically designed to be accessible to people with all kinds of common disabilities, an organization can take an important step towards being ILC compliant.
With the help of your website, you can talk to the disabled community using everything from video to audio to text and also get feedback from them. Talk to them about the problems that you think they might be facing, tell them that there are solutions to those problems that they might know of, and let them tell you what other problems you can solve for them. Give them everything from the information required to be confident, connect, and thrive to links to the providers who can provide them with the financial aid required for it. That is how a website can help you meet the first, most important purpose of the ILC program.
While conveying information through a website is important – there are some techniques you must keep in mind while optimizing all the content you post to be accessible for the disabled community. For example, you can help people with the following common disabilities easily access and benefit from your content in the following different ways.
Colour Vision Deficiency
To solve the problem for people who cannot rely on colours to guide them, designers must make sure that they closely monitor the entire user journey across the platform and do not leave any point at which the user is forced to try to distinguish colours to understand something. For example, the colourful tabs and design elements can be enhanced by text, symbols, textures, and distinctive borders.
An example is a technique that BBC Sports has used to make its charts and tables more friendly for colour blind people.
Hence, the introduction of a single assistive letter in the colourful block could help the viewer ascertain what it meant.
Where it is not possible for designers to use text or symbols, they can always resort to introducing markedly different textures or outlines that have nothing to do with colour.
Some tools that designers can use to actually view their design from the perspectives of colour-blind viewers and optimize their NDIS websites accordingly and easily are as follows:
- Userway Contrast Checker
- Color Oracle
- No Coffee
- Guide to Soft-Proofing for Adobe CC Software
- Coblis Simulator
Generic Visual Impairments
People with a generic visual impairment can always be helped by using the right fonts and colours – with clear, bold, straight letters that can easily be distinguished and read. The right size of tabs and not cramming pages with options is another key to helping them see and find what they need to. An important example is one of Ingram that uses Sans and Sans Serif fonts only and adequate spacing to make things easier for its users.
To aid dyslexic people in distinguishing among letters and reading the content you have posted on your website, you may choose a font that is dyslexic-friendly. Now, what is a dyslexic friendly font? It is one in which each letter has a very, very unique shape. In which they cannot just flip ‘b’ to ‘d’ because ‘b’ and ‘d’ are not mirror images of each other and they can be distinguished despite the flipping.
Christian Boer, himself a dyslexic, founded the Dyslexie font which can be easily read by dyslexic individuals.
While deafness is not a major problem for visitors of websites that do not use much video content, it is important for an NDIS website supportive of the deaf community to keep subtitles a top priority if they need to use such content and still convey their point easily to the elderly who may have a bad hearing as well as the deaf.
Offering simple and small keyboard shortcuts can solve the problem for people with motor disabilities who may have difficulty with a mouse or a touchpad or even complex keyboard functions and commands.
Sketch has solved this problem by offering very simple keyboard shortcuts like simply an ‘R’ command for a rectangle drawing. Websites like Atomic.io and Dribbble are also using the same technique in their web design and therefore, you can easily use it for your NDIS website as well.
Modification of the Web Design
Some very important tools and techniques that can be used to address the main problems faced by people with all kinds of disabilities while navigating through and accessing a website’s content are listed below:
- WCAG Compliance – please review Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and keep them in mind
- Improving Navigation through Services Available – Less Crammed, Less Interactive Webpages and More Prominent Buttons
- More Graphical Illustrations, Less Wordy Explanations
- Content That Can Be Consumed by All – Audio available along with Text
- NDIS Specific Content
- Choosing the Best Vocabulary and Tone
- Guided Search
- Clear and Frequent Calls to Action
- Stories of Successfully Delivered Aid to Motivate and Inspire the Audience
- Extensive FAQs about NDIS Services
By keeping in mind all the aforementioned points, you can make your website your strongest ILC tool and resource to help you through the most critical of the ILC stages – spreading awareness about everything, educating, informing, and empowering.
The Second Key – Linkages
The second letter in the abbreviation ILC stands for “Linkages” – an important thing that the disabled community needs to be equipped with in order to be a fully functional, thriving, interactive, and liberated part of any normal community. It is common for people with certain disabilities to fall behind in many fields due to their lack of social confidence or social insecurity due to the discrimination that they may have faced throughout their past lives. That keeps them from living and thriving to their fullest potential, and therefore they are usually found surviving instead of thriving.
Removing all that insecurity from their psychology will take not just supportive, empowering, or informational content but also a wide range of positive interaction with their community. They need to be viewed as normal people and not spectacles – a purpose that can be met by the right type of web platform that brings them together with their community. To help the disabled community build enough confidence to interact normally with their entire community and not be self-conscious or afraid of discrimination at any point is one of the ILC program’s main purposes.
That purpose can be achieved efficiently and easily through a dynamic web platform with a wide range of functionalities. Physical communication may be hindered by many factors including the occurrence of the COVID-19 crisis, but electronic communication can always be used as an effective alternative. It is one of the basic purposes of the web to bring people together, and that is a purpose that your NDIS ILC website can serve for you. It can help you provide your clients with the linkages they need in their community to feel and be empowered socially.
The Third Key – Capacity-Building
The third purpose of the ILC program is to let the disabled community participate in all kinds of social events and activities in their community and give them all that they need to do so. While the financial aid and thus the practical empowerment is up to the NDIS providers, what the ILC providers have to do is more closely related to confidence and awareness building. If you can help the disabled confidently approach their communities and participate in all kinds of events by spreading awareness among them, you can meet this purpose as well.
There are many techniques that can be used on a web platform to motivate and incentivize a community to participate, interact, and socialize more. It is somewhat related to marketing – you need to make them feel good about something to have them participate in it. Many kinds of technologies including Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality can be employed by an ILC funded organization to motivate their clients into increased social exposure and capacity-building.
Virtual Reality Marketing and Augmented Reality Marketing are two techniques used by modern marketing professionals on their websites to make people feel better about being there. In other words, they can be used to change or modify the audience’s perception of something. By changing their perception about those community activities that they avoid, you can incentivize them to start participating in the same. That is how a website can help you meet the third purpose of an ILC funded organization.
Hence proved that the ILC program is not nearly as dependent on physical location and presence as the NDIS funding itself. It is a holistic approach that can be actively employed through a website that conveys information, linkage, and capacity-building opportunities.