Making your grant management accessible
Accessibility in grant management involves ensuring that the process and resources related to grants are available to individuals with diverse abilities and needs.
Why is accessibility within grant management important?
Accessibility is essential from an ethical perspective, but also from a business perspective – by removing barriers to application, your organisation has access to the widest possible range of applicants and potential projects that will help you deliver against your core aims.
Ensuring accessibility aligns with principles of equity and inclusion. It upholds the rights of individuals with diverse abilities to participate equally in opportunities like grants, aligning with ethical values of fairness and equal access to resources. By recognising and accommodating diverse needs a culture of respect and consideration for all individuals is supported. An approach to grant making that is overtly accessible acknowledges that everyone should have the chance to engage with opportunities on an equal footing. We know that organisations have a responsibility to serve and support their communities. By promoting accessibility, organisations like yours contribute to societal well-being by enabling broader participation and reducing barriers that might otherwise exclude certain groups.
And, with a focus on the business imperative, we know that accessibility increases the potential applicant pool by removing barriers. A more diverse pool of applicants brings in a wider range of perspectives, experiences, and innovative ideas, potentially leading to stronger, more impactful projects. This diversity can lead to more innovative and effective solutions that align more closely with your key objectives.
Additionally, embracing accessibility reflects positively on an organisation. It demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity and social responsibility, which can enhance the organisation’s reputation, fostering trust among stakeholders and the community. We know that many regions have laws and regulations mandating accessibility. Complying with these standards not only avoids legal issues but also demonstrates a proactive approach to meeting legal requirements – this in turn builds a positive reputation. In engaging diverse applicants, stakeholders and assessors by enabling broader participation, organisations can create more sustainable and resilient projects.
In essence, accessibility aligns ethical considerations with sound business practices. By eliminating barriers, organisations can tap into a wealth of talent and creativity, fostering innovation, improving outcomes, and demonstrating a commitment to social responsibility – all of which contribute to overall success and sustainability.
What does accessibility look like in grant management?
Here are our top five areas to consider when assessing the accessibility of your grant life cycle
- Application process: Make sure the grant application process is accessible to everyone. This could involve providing multiple formats for application materials (such as text-based forms, audio files, or easy-to-read formats), ensuring compatibility with screen readers and other assistive technologies, and allowing for alternative methods of submission if needed.
- Communication: Ensure that all communications regarding the grant—whether it’s information about the application process, updates, or notifications—are provided in accessible formats. This might include using plain language, providing text descriptions for images, and ensuring compatibility with screen readers.
- Training and support: Offer support and guidance in various formats. Some individuals might require specific types of assistance in understanding the application requirements or navigating the grant management system. Providing training materials in multiple formats can be beneficial.
- Evaluation and review: When evaluating grant applications, ensure that the review process is fair and accommodating. Reviewers should be mindful of diverse needs and perspectives. We always suggest recruiting diverse reviewers who understand accessibility concerns.
- Documentation and reporting: Ensure that all documentation related to grants, reports, and guidelines is available in accessible formats. This might involve providing documents in plain text, HTML, or other formats that are easily readable by assistive technologies.
We always recommend that organisations encourage feedback from applicants and recipients regarding the accessibility of the grant management process. We see how successful organisations can be when they use this feedback to continually improve and make necessary adjustments.
And one final note – if there are physical events related to the grant, such as workshops, seminars, or presentations, we strongly recommend that you ensure that the venues are accessible to people with disabilities. This might involve providing wheelchair ramps, accessible bathrooms, sign language interpreters, quiet spaces, and other accommodations as necessary.
Ultimately, the goal is to remove barriers and create an inclusive environment throughout the grant management process, allowing everyone to equally participate and benefit from the opportunities provided by the grants.
How can your grant management software system ensure accessibility at all stages of the grant life cycle?
AIMS Software Ltd is committed to accessibility within our own business but, more importantly for you, within our product. We build accessible interfaces and workflows whilst delivering against the design needs of each organisation. Our decades of experience allows us to help clients navigate accessibility needs for their systems, no matter how specific or complex. Areas that we consider essential to ensure accessibility are as follows – but as always, feel free to get in touch to discuss your particular questions even if you aren’t ready to update your grant management software system.
We are here to help everyone give grants better – here are some thoughts to help your grant management software make your grant giving more accessible.
- User interface design: Design the software interface to be accessible to individuals with various abilities. This includes using clear and consistent layouts, sufficient colour contrast, and intuitive navigation. Implement keyboard accessibility so users can navigate without a mouse, and ensure compatibility with screen readers and other assistive technologies.
- Multiple input methods: Allow for multiple input methods. Some users might prefer keyboard shortcuts, while others may rely on voice commands or alternative input devices. Providing options caters to diverse user needs.
- Accessible documentation and help resources: Offer comprehensive documentation and help resources in various formats, such as text-based guides, video tutorials with captions, and audio instructions. Ensure these resources are easily accessible within the software.
- Customisation: Enable users to customise the interface based on their preferences. This might include font size adjustments, colour contrasts, or layout modifications to accommodate different needs.
- Compatibility and responsiveness: Ensure the software is compatible with different devices, browsers, and operating systems. It should be responsive and adaptable to various screen sizes to accommodate users accessing the system from different devices.
- Testing and feedback: Regularly conduct accessibility testing with users who have accessibility requiremenets. Gather feedback to identify areas for improvement and address any accessibility issues that arise.
- Compliance with accessibility standards: Adhere to established accessibility standards such as WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) to ensure the software meets recognised benchmarks for accessibility.
- Training and support: Provide comprehensive training to users and support staff to ensure they understand how to use the software in an accessible manner. This might include training on accessibility features and best practices.
- Continuous improvement: Commit to ongoing improvements based on user feedback, technological advancements, and changes in accessibility standards to continually enhance the software’s accessibility.
Accessibility for all audiences is at the core of our business.
With over three decades of designing grant management software to help organisations globally, we’re here to help you when you have questions about accessibility.