PCPID Quarterly Meeting: November 19–20, 2008
President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities
- The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID)
- Announcements, Meeting Announcements, Publication (Documents and Resources), Meeting Minutes
- Meeting Minutes, Meeting Announcement
Chairman Rhatigan reconvened the meeting by introducing Mr. Bob Goldstraw to speak about the progress of disabilityinfo.gov.
Robert G. Goldstraw and Diana Zeitzer, U.S. Department of Labor, ODEP
Mr. Goldstraw talked about the bestowal of the Outstanding Partnership Award to the President’s Committee because of the precise and helpful input which it has provided. That same input has made for rapid advancement and improvement of the DisabilityInfo.gov website.
First, Mr. Goldstraw looked at a few statistics:
- The number of visitors to the site was stuck at a little over 5,000 per day for a while. It has recently increased by 33 percent to more than 6,000 visitors daily or almost
- 200,000 per month.
- In 2007, the site had about 1.8 million visitors.
- This calendar year it will likely have more than 2 million visitors.
- The number of subscriptions has also increased dramatically to about 52,000.
This disabilityinfo.gov site should be used as a method for communicating. Contact Mr. Bob Goldstraw or Ms. Diana Zeitzer, directly, to add content to the webpage.
Presentation by Diana Zeitzer
Mr. Goldstraw then turned the time over to Ms. Diana Zeitzer to go through the outline for DisabilityInfo.gov. The website organized by categories which are listed across the top of the page. In addition, there are resources at the state, local, and national levels. They would be happy to post any resources applicable to the site. Ms. Zeitzer encouraged anyone who had not previously done so to subscribe to the site in order to know what type of information it includes. Then, she gave some additional information about the resources on the website. In the near future, DisabilityInfo.gov plans to improve the search function on its site, making it easier to locate the intended materials.
Mr. Vaughn asked if they had reached out to organizations for the aging population. They had spoken with people from the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) and gotten the link to DisabilityInfo.gov on the AARP Resource page; however, Ms. Zeitzer is still working on getting the link placed more prominently. They have spoken to a few other aging organizations like HHS, ALA and the CMS Caregiver Initiative as well.
It is more difficult to reach this target population since the term “disability” carries some stigma. Consequently, the aging population has not wanted to be part of the disability community and has not recognized themselves as part of that population in the past. This thinking has not necessarily changed in individuals, but organizations that represent the population have been more open to connections.
Mr. Cantos asked if information is already posted or prepared for posting on the disability related policies of the President-Elect as well as other disability related information having to do with transition. Although it may not be posted on the website, they are preparing a transition Report for DisabilityInfo.gov which should include where we have been and where we hope to go.
The website still needs some work. It needs to be simplified and more user-friendly if the average person is supposed to be able to find what he or she is searching for. Currently, users find different information when using the categories to search and using the navigator. However, a tagging process is currently underway which should make the navigator more effective.
Since the staff of the website is small, they cannot keep up with every new development. Thus, they count heavily on contributors to bring them information and make sure the latest material gets on the site. Mr. Goldstraw requested that, as soon as the Report to the President for 2009 comes out, someone inform him. New information can usually be added within one day.
Ms. De La Rosa-Aponte suggested that a link be added to success stories about individuals with intellectual disabilities who have been self-employed. This would allow website viewers who want more information about the featured story to have easy access to that information. Mr. Goldstraw thought he could accomplish this by making a sub-folder under Self-Employment. This could turn into a “share your own stories” section where people can submit stories. He thought he would be able to add this section immediately.
The site will be redesigned soon with the intention of making it more interactive and consistent with big interactive sites and social networking sites. Recent changes with government websites are allowing movement in that direction. Eventually, they want the site to be more customizable, so that individuals will not have to see anything that does not interest them.
Mr. Goldstraw expressed some brief concerns about Web 2.3 since he is familiar with Web 2.0. Mr. Eric Cole proposed a solution and volunteered to assist Mr. Goldstraw in setting everything up. Mr. Cole thought they could connect to other search engines and pull from those search engines as well. He also felt that the ODEP publication was fabulous and should be available online if it was not already available. Ms. Sue Picerno said she would check into that. There is an electronic version being put together, but she did not think there was one available online. As soon as that becomes available, Ms. Zeitzer will put it up, and Mr. Cole will disseminate it to their constituencies.
Ms. Linda Starnes asked about the parameters in place for the content on the website: what is allowed to be put onto the site? Are the guidelines the same for the local level? Has anything evolved since this was last discussed? The parameters have not evolved. About half of the sources come from .gov websites. The rest were .org, .edu, and .us. This does include some faith- and community-based resources. When it gets down to local governments, most of the resources for those with disabilities do not come from the Federal Government or even state government. The only restriction is the exclusion of profit-making entities.
Because the website excludes profit-making entities, Ms. Starnes questioned the previously discussed section regarding self-employment. The featured individuals would be making a profit. Up to this point, the problem has been dealt with by having a warning pop up that tells the person that the site they are about to visit is not necessarily supported or endorsed by the government. The exact rules, however, are still being figured out. They should be able to put up success stories that do not link to a particular company or business. They still have not been told whether they can link to .coms.
Ms. Starnes added the suggestion that anyone who has a chance to speak in public might spread the word about DisabilityInfo.gov, letting groups know what a great resource the website can be.
Mr. Casey O’Holloran suggested employment coaches as a possible addition to the site.
In critique of the website, Ms. Mary Ellen Zeppuhar added that the links could be a bit more general and user-friendly. She also presented some ideas for the redesign of the website. Mr. Goldstraw expanded on her ideas, explaining that the website needs to be easy to navigate. Eliminate anything about the site that impedes, among other people, people with intellectual disabilities from finding what they're looking for. If it takes a long time for a person to find what he or she is looking for, the site is useless.
There are many things that they have planned for the redesign that they expect to implement in the first quarter of next year. This will include the removal of irrelevant text. A quick link section will be added to the home page. Stories of individuals with disabilities with great achievements will be featured.
Mr. Eric Cole brought up a product called Work World (workworld.org) with a number of features and a health feature available at no cost. It quickly tailors results to your geographic region. He suggested that they might want to add something like this to DisabilityInfo.gov. Mr. Goldstraw agreed to bring the idea to the information technology team.
Ms. Mary Ellen Zeppuhar asked if the website was also accessible for people who use screen readers and if it filled all those requirements. Mr. Goldstraw assured her that they are. However, since the site is a web portal, the connecting sites may not be accessible. In order to help this problem, they could make an effort to lead the user only to sites that meet the requirements for accessibility. However, that type of restriction would eliminate a lot of the content. They can make the website completely accessible, but not all the sources from which the website pulls. Ms. Sharman Word Dennis inquired whether the site talked yet. Unfortunately, the site does not talk. Mr. Goldstraw did speak with the information people about it.
Mr. Ollie Cantos asked if there is information on the website about how to write accessibly for people with developmental disabilities? He knew that such a guide existed. Ms. Zeitzer said she would check online to see if she could find the publication. If it's available online, it will be up. Mr. Cantos will email the link for the guide he talked about.
There is an excess of material on the website. One goal right now, as mentioned by Mr. Goldstraw, is to go through everything on the website and dump what may not be of the greatest use.
Mr. Hollingshead discussed a strategy to get the websites which link into DisabilityInfo.gov to become accessible. Since DisabilityInfo.gov generates hits for the sites, they can control which sites get more hits to some extent. The content providers can then be pushed, once they realize that this website is effecting how many hits they receive, to invest in accessibility.
Members discussed various ways that the website might be improved. For example, the website’s search engine could scroll other connected search engines and return those results as well.
Mr. Goldstraw closed the presentation with an invitation for continuing comments to improve DisabilityInfo.gov. Chairman Rhatigan dismissed the participants for lunch, to reconvene at 12:45 p.m.
(Recess for Lunch)