UX and Usability in Non Profits

Lately at work I have been working with the non-profit organisation World Vision Australia on the 40 Hour Famine website as a UX and Usability Specialist. I have been working with the Marketing, Digital and Youth Teams on a strategic approach on how to consider a vast range of end users. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there were between 500 and 700 million people with disabilities worldwide in 2006. On top of this, there were around 600 million people aged 60 and over in 2000, some of whom might become disabled due to aging. The WHO forecasts that this sector of the world population will grow to 1.2 billion by 2025 and to 2 billion by 2050. In view of the sheer numbers of people affected by disabilities worldwide, considerable efforts have to be made at both the national and international level to address the challenges they face. As a result, awareness of the legitimate demands of older people and people with disabilities to take an active part in everyday life is no longer confined to interest groups, consumer organizations, and the public sector, but also has consequences for the actions of business enterprises. The private sector has recognized the economic importance of this ever increasing market segment and is becoming increasingly conscious of the requirements of this group of users. Hence, there is a growing global awareness of the requirements of people with disabilities and older people, but this does not mean that all countries have a shared or even similar perception of the concept of accessibility. From my findings, in the US, they take a strict stand when it comes to providing accessibility to people with disabilities. The US was the first country to put accessibility legislation (Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act) in place to elimininate barriers in information and communication technology products and open up new opportunities for people with disabilities. Basically, Section 508 dictates that all US federal agencies must provide federal employees and members of the public with disabilities with equivalent access to information. More information about Section 508 is available at www.section508.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Content&ID=14. But here in Australia, the Australian Government has endorsed the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.0 for all government websites. This requirement supersedes the previous mandate for compliance with WCAG 1.0. In November 2009, the Online and Communications Council (OCC) endorsed WCAG 2.0, requiring all Australian, state and territory government websites to conform to the guidelines to meet WCAG 2.0 Level A by December 2012. The Secretaries’ ICT Governance Board (SIGB) extended the requirement for Australian Government (Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997) (FMA Act) agencies to conform to WCAG 2.0 Level AA standard by December 2014. Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 agencies must ensure that people with disabilities have the same fundamental rights to access information and services as others in the community. More information visit http://www.australia.gov.au/accessibility. So, with all this regulation and laws in place, I hope they can be more educated on who they are focusing their website designs and applications. And from my studies it has revealed considerable frustration as potential donors visited sites and tried to discern various organizations’ missions and goals — which are key factors in their decisions about whether to give money. Usability guru Jakob Neilsen also wrote a great report specifically targeting non-profits, and how to design non-profit and charity websites to encourage donations. Hopefully from that report and my findings they will get a nice world class solution.

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