The Ontario Ministry of Citizenship’s Equal Opportunity Branch works to improve accessibility for persons with disabilities and to advance equal opportunity in the workplace. Their web site is a core part of their effort to share information on topics like workplace accommodation, diversity management, assistive technologies, and human rights policy.
In early 2000, the Ministry hired The Commons Group to develop a strategy that would increase the impact and relevance of their Gateway to Diversity web site. The project included everything from end-user consultation to project planning to oversight of the final project implementation.
- Broaden the scope of the site to include information on both diversity issues and the removal of barriers to people with disabilities
- Find a way to reduce the amount of staff time required for content management while increasing the volume of content delivered by the site
- Create a more up-to-date interface that looked nicer, worked better, and was easier to move around in.
The first step taken by The Commons Group was to talk to the users — people both within and outside the Ministry who relied on the site. This step included conducting focus groups with human resource professionals, small businesses, and other employers interested in the benefits of workplace diversity. It also included in-depth interviews with Ministry management and the staff charged with the task of day-to-day site management.
With user feedback in hand, The Commons Group undertook a detailed analysis of the business and information needs to be addressed by the site and presented the results — as a number of different content and technical options — for the Ministry management’s review. The Commons Group fleshed out the Ministry’s selected option — a full-featured, database-driven portal site — into a Business Plan and Technical Requirements to guide project implementation.
Project Start Up and Management
Using the Project Business Plan and Technical Requirements as a touchstone, The Commons Group helped to set up the systems needed for project implementation. This included writing an RFP, interviewing technical vendors, developing a detailed work plan and reviewing specifications with programmers during the early phases of the project. The Commons Group also provided ongoing support to Ministry project management staff, and conducted quality assurance reviews during the final phases of the project.
The final result was Paths to Equal Opportunity — an expanded portal site dealing with both workplace diversity and barrier removal. Users experienced an improved interface, better search tools, and a dramatically expanded selection of content. Ministry staff were provided with database-driven content management tools to ease their workload while at the same time allowing them to improve and increase the content on the site.View All