Open to the world: Why accessibility matters on the web
01 June 2021
At the 2019 launch of the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy, the Secretary-General said that the UN should lead by example and raise its standards and performance on disability inclusion. That includes all UN digital platforms. The UNSDG website and social media channels are walking the talk on boosting accessibility.
These are among the values that the United Nations holds most dear. In all its work, the UN seeks to bring together people from around the world to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
These values apply equally to how the UN communicates. When different parties come together—governments, community organizations, funding partners, and others—they need to get and share information.
That’s why the UNSDG website has been redesigned to meet the highest standards of accessibility, inclusion, and transparency. This isn’t just about making the site look nicer—though we hope you like its new look. It’s about living up to the UN’s highest values in everything we do.
All the improvements described below were based on user-experience research. Through surveys and focus groups, we learnt better what our target audiences need and how we can best provide it.
Here are a few ways we’re doing this.
Inclusive and accessible: A global public good
The United Nations strives to include as many people as possible in its work. To that end, we’ve made the UNSDG website more accessible — including to people with disabilities, such as hearing or visual impairments.
For example, we’re putting more white space around text, using higher contrast-colors, adding “alternative text” to describe photos, and so on. That might seem like good practice for any web user, but it’s especially important for people with visual impairments.
The global and country websites are also more easily navigable now, thanks to bigger buttons, bigger headlines, better dashboards, clearer menus, and other features.
Things like subtitles and sign-language interpretation on videos — such as in this video from Guyana, on the 2020 International Day of Persons With Disabilities — make our websites and social media accounts more understandable.
The websites, in short, have a robust new variety of tools and resources.
Being accessible is not a one-time project but an ongoing process. We always strive to have the global and country websites meet or exceed the UN’s web accessibility standards.
Transparent: What you see is what we have
The UN is responsible for sharing its work with the world, and that includes information on our results, partners, finances, and lots more.
After many consultations with our partners and users, we’ve redesigned the UNSDG website so that it provides this information better than ever before.
The new data dashboards display project information in easy-to-understand ways, and users can apply filters to find precisely the information they’re looking for. Funding data is easily available, too, such as on the Special Purpose Trust Fund.
There’s a searchable library of reports about all that we do. And the UN INFO data site features a wealth of information, including on UN Resident Coordinators and their backgrounds.
In these and other ways, we’re making sure that everything we do is documented and publicly available.
Collaborative: All together now
“United” is not just part of the name of the United Nations, it’s part of our very purpose. At the UN, nations and peoples work together for a better today — and tomorrow.
This kind of partnership is especially important in development coordination, when UN agencies and their partners collaborate across borders, sectors, and other lines.
This has implications for UN websites. The global UNSDG website has a new look and new features—which you’ll also find on UN Country Team websites. That way, if you’re looking for project information or financial data or results reports on one UN Country Team’s website, you’ll find it in the same place on the website of a UN Country Team on the other side of the world.
The same principle applies in our social media, where, for example, our social media cards have the same format on both global and country-team accounts.
Aligning our global and country websites is just one more way the UN is working together in support of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Produced by the Development Coordination Office. Written by Paul VanDeCarr, Development Coordination Office.