A GTA-led initiative to ensure the accessibility of state websites to people with a range of disabilities has been honored with a first place award from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO).

The award was presented September 19 at NASCIO’s national conference to Nikhil Deshpande, director of GTA’s GeorgiaGov Interactive team, which manages the state’s web portal, www.georgia.gov, and enterprise web platform. The platform currently supports 78 state websites. Collaborating with GTA on the Accessible Platform Initiative were the state’s ADA Coordinator’s Office and the AMAC Accessibility Solutions and Research Center at Georgia Tech. The initiative placed first in the category of Digital Government: Government to Citizen in NASCIO’s State IT Recognition Awards.

“Making the state’s online resources accessible to all Georgians, especially individuals with disabilities, is a critical part of our commitment to eliminating barriers to government services,” said Gov. Nathan Deal. “I want to thank the business managers and technology professionals throughout the state government for their commitment to making services easier to access and more responsive to the needs of citizens. Their work is truly making a positive difference in the lives of others.”

Calvin Rhodes, state chief information officer and GTA executive director, described the NASCIO award as “an acknowledgement of vision and leadership that set a standard for others in the public sector to emulate. I’m exceedingly proud of the GeorgiaGov Interactive team and commend them for addressing accessibility. Their work benefits all state agencies that are part of the state’s enterprise web platform.”

With government agencies turning more and more to online self-service to provide a range of mission-critical services, the GeorgiaGov Interactive team set out to ensure that the state’s portal and enterprise web platform meet the special needs of constituents with disabilities affecting vision, hearing, motion and cognition.

The initiative led to 24 accessibility-related enhancements in addition to greater color contrast and font legibility for 16 website design themes. Improvements to functionality make it easier to access online content using assistive tools, such as screen readers. The initiative required significant research, planning, testing and code enhancement. It resulted in compliance with widely recognized standards for online accessibility..

NASCIO is the nation’s leading resource for state CIOs and a prominent advocate for technology policy at all government levels. Learn more about NASCIO and its awards program at http://www.nascio.org/Newsroom/ArtMID/484/ArticleID/418/NASCIO-Recognizes-Outstanding-Achievement-in-State-Government.

The NASCIO award is the second national honor conferred on the state in as many days. The Center for Digital Government announced September 18 that Georgia earned an A- in the 2016 Digital States Survey, which is conducted in even-numbered years and results in the assignment of a letter grade to each state. Only five states received grades higher than Georgia’s. In addition, Georgia placed first in the nation in the survey category of Enterprise Information Communications and Technology because of the Department of Transportation’s innovative use of communications technology to monitor and manage traffic conditions throughout Georgia.