Nonprofit organizations understand they are competing for limited resources. When applying for grants, we aim to make our case succinctly and to be compelling in expressing our mission and goals. We work hard to complete applications with efficiency because we—and our funders—would rather we solve the problems we have identified than struggle with the grant application process.
Organizations like ours that advocate for equal opportunities for people with disabilities proactively hire disabled people. Therefore, when grant application processes are not accessible to the assistive technologies or adaptive strategies people with disabilities use, inaccessibility derails the effort and adds an unnecessary burden to the application process. Applications are often complex – assistive technology users should not have to overcome technical barriers as well. Here are some tips for removing barriers and making your process more inclusive.
1. Clearly provide instruction and set expectations
Your applicant may not see the form. If it is a long process with several parts, or if specific documents will be required in the process, make that clear in your introduction using language that is simple and free of jargon.
2. Use semantic structure
When applied with understanding and intent, HTML headings and lists can communicate structure to those who do not see the page. The significance of icons on required fields can be communicated with simple coding techniques that are easily interpreted by assistive technology.
3. Ensure visible keyboard access to all inputs and form controls
Many assistive technologies rely on keyboard operations to provide input and to activate the submission of forms.
4. Provide explicit labels for form inputs and controls
Assistive technologies can precisely and elegantly support the input of correct information when code is properly written.
5. Validate user input and provide options to undo changes and confirm data entry.
Offer the ability to review all information before it is submitted. Take special care with legal and financial details.
6. Notify users about successful task completion or any errors
Provide clear instructions to help them understand and correct mistakes.
Grantmakers contribute enormously to the wellbeing of our communities – let’s take that extra step to make sure that disabled people are included in these opportunities. Now that you know what to do, here are resources to help you with the how of creating accessible grant applications:
Many detailed resources are available to help make forms and online interactions more accessible. We have listed a few here and encourage you to explore more widely.
- WebAIM: Creating Accessible Forms
- W3C/WAI: Web Accessibility Tutorials: Forms Concepts
- A11y Coffee: Introduction to Web Accessibility
- Oregon State University: Focus Visible
- Ford Foundation: Making Our Grant Making Process More Accessible and Inclusive
More articles in the Helping The Helpers series.
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Through testing, training, strategic planning, and policy development services, Knowbility empowers our clients to achieve and maintain their web accessibility goals. Since 2002, we’ve helped hundreds of corporations, nonprofits, educational organizations, and government agencies improve their digital offerings and become more inclusive. Learn how we can help your organization join the club.