January 23, 2019

The Importance of Digital Equity

Women and man look at computer screen

PPL's commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) challenges us to create a more equitable, inclusive community. This work is guided by PPL's Statement of Equity:

PPL strives to be an equitable and inclusive organization committed to elevating the voices of the communities we serve who are disportionately affected by systemic inequities.

The Equity Statement sets the stage for all PPL work. It declares our vision of advancing the voices and opportunities of historically marginalized communities, and calls our PPL's resolute responsibility in doing so.

Whether taking a class at the Career Center, having a 1:1 meeting with staff, or visiting PPL's website, each interaction, each service provided, should reflect our inclusive, respectful, and equitable values.

When the time came to redesign PPL's website, we wanted to take advantage of the powerful opportunity to increase our digital equity.

At PPL, digital equity means creating equitable access and representation in digital communications by thinking of each user, and their individual and communal needs.

To achieve this, we asked ourselves three questions throughout the process:

  1. How can PPL's website best represent the voices and needs of the communities we serve?
  2. How can we remove existing barriers and prevent the construction of barriers on our new site?
  3. How can our website help build authentic, inclusive relationships?

 

Here are a few concrete steps we took to improve digital equity on PPL's redesigned website:

  • Usability Testing with Participants & Residents: Before and during the redesign process, we solicited feedback directly from PPL participants, residents, and supporters. 1:1 sessions provided unique opportunities for people to navigate the test site, and provide feedback on their experience and impressions, directly shaping the finished product.
  • Representation in Imagery: Photos and imagery selected for the site were reviewed to reflect the diverse community PPL serves. We hope each website user can see themselves and their community represented on the site.
  • Representation in Storytelling: Elevating voices in the communities we serve is critical to creating equity. PPL's new website provides space for 'Community Voices', stories from participants and residents to share their journey and experiences.
  • Mobile-Friendly Design: Equity includes economic inclusion; not everyone has access to a laptop or desktop computer. Thanks to our new mobile-responsible design, everyone, regardless of device, will have the same experience.
  • Improve Alt Text: People with disabilities use a variety of tools to access websites. For screen readers, adding alternative text (alt text) in the backend system provides a description of images, allowing users with visual disabilities to better understand what images look like on a site. During the redesign, we added or updated alt text to all website images.

 

PPL's digital equity efforts are a work in progress. We recognize there is more to be done as PPL continues along its DEI journey. We are committed to ongoing assessment and growth to ensure PPL communications elevate community voices disproportionately affected by systemic inequities.