Civic Futures Awards

Making permitting forms accessible

City of Austin

Development Services Department

The problem

The Development Services Department uses nearly a hundred different fillable pdf forms for its review and permitting processes. Most of these forms are not accessible to users with visual impairments.

Solution / Approach

After conducting an accessibility audit of DSD's forms, Chris proposed a new business process that would ensure Section 508 compliance while minimizing the burden on staff. To convince executives to adopt the process, Chris first needed to raise awareness of accessibility in his chain of command.

Core team
  • Chris McConnell
  • Jaime Castillo
  • Neil Galati
Key advisors
  • David Ondich
  • Melissa Martinez
  • Janet McNiel
What can make it sustainable?

Ideally, DSD would move to web-based, wizard-style applications or dynamically generated forms, which would obviate the need for a different form for each business process and ensure accessibility.

Advice to others

It is easy to make excuses to cut corners on accessibility, but ensuring Section 508 compliance isn't just the right thing to do - it can also improve usability more generally.