For Immediate Release: July 8, 2009
MEDIA ADVISORY: MDHR to Unveil Revamped, Accessible Web Site
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) on July 9 will introduce a completely redesigned web site, developed over two years to make human rights information quicker to find and more accessible, especially for individuals with disabilities.
"Making our web site as accessible as possible was our highest priority," said Velma Korbel, Commissioner of the Department of Human Rights. "The content of our site remains strong, with a wealth of information about the department and the rights and responsibilities of citizens under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA). But now this content should be easier to find, and presented in a manner that’s attractive, logical, and consistent with state and federal accessibility guidelines."
In addition to a new home page which provides links to the latest and most requested content, the new site is organized in seven sections: About Us, Your Rights, File a Complaint, Employers, Youth, Education & Outreach, and Settlements. Because the site has been reorganized, those who have previously "bookmarked" their favorite pages may find these links no longer work, but the content should still be available and easy to find on the new web site. The URL (or web address) of the web site remains the same: http://www.humanrights.state.mn.us.
The new home page also prominently states the department’s mission: "to make Minnesota discrimination free," and makes it clear that the department’s job is to enforce a state law, the MHRA, a role that distinguishes it from other human rights organizations and their web sites.
"It’s important that people understand that MDHR is a government agency, charged with serving everyone in Minnesota, and not an advocacy organization," Korbel said. "We believe the look and feel of the new web site supports our role as a professional, impartial investigative agency."
Other important features of the new web site include:
- An "intake section" featured prominently on the home page offers visitors a first step toward filing a charge or complaint with the department;
- "Contract Compliance for Employers" and "Education and Outreach," two key divisions of the department in addition to Intake and Enforcement, are also prominent on the home page;
- "Quicklinks" on the home page provide a direct route to the latest and most requested content;
- Throughout the web site, images, charts and diagrams have text equivalents to make the site more accessible for individuals with disabilities;
- The site’s navigation lets the user know where he or she is, in terms of the site’s content and structure, at all times;
- Pages can be printed in a manner that is optimized for the printed page, rather than the screen; the printed pages are less cluttered and easier to read than previously;
- The site generally follows Section 508 guidelines to ensure that content is accessible to those who use screen-readers and other assistive technologies;
- The web site continues to feature the Department’s quarterly online newsletter, the Rights Stuff, in pdf format; however, past newsletter articles are better integrated with the rest of the web site and easier to find;
- Modern, streamlined code should allow pages to load faster, eliminate errors, and ensure compatibility with a wide variety of web browsers.
As the site was being tested, feedback was sought from those in the disability community and was highly positive. "You have done your homework and should be congratulated," said David Andrews, Chief Technology Officer for Minnesota State Services for the Blind. "Thanks for all the work you obviously did to make the site accessible to all people with disabilities — not just blind and visually impaired persons."