Accessible Volunteer Engagement and Technology

Finding and participating in volunteer opportunities poses significant challenges for many people. It’s not always accessible. According to the United Nations, accessibility means providing flexibility to accommodate each user’s needs and preferences. In an Internet context, accessibility is making computer technology and Internet resources useful to more people than would otherwise be the case.

Many volunteer engagement professionals realize that change is needed, but struggle with where to begin.

Accessibility in Volunteer Engagement

Creating accessible volunteer opportunities involves removing barriers that prevent individuals with disabilities or other limitations from participating. Here are some ideas.

Diverse Opportunities

Offer diverse volunteer roles that accommodate different skills, interests, and physical abilities. It’s an easy way to start your organization’s accessibility journey. From remote tasks to on-site opportunities, diversity in roles allows opportunities for more people to help. Flexibility in scheduling enables volunteers with various commitments or limitations to participate. Offering part-time, weekend, or flexible-hour opportunities accommodates the many needs of volunteers.

Mobility and Transportation

Consider scheduling accessibility assessments of volunteer-related locations. Document how these facilities meet ADA necessary accommodations like ramps, accessible restrooms, automatic doors, among others. Create volunteer opportunities that are close to public transportation and provide directions to those locations.

Onboarding and Training

Providing detailed information about tasks, physical requirements, and accommodation options helps potential volunteers make informed choices. Review your organization’s volunteer descriptions, recruitment materials, and web presence. Is the content clear and descriptive? Setting expectations builds trust with volunteers.

Offering training programs or support materials ensures that volunteers are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge, so people can learn in ways that are meaningful to them and understand accessibility considerations. Additionally, providing resources in a variety formats (text, audio, video, etc.) can increase volunteer comprehension of learning materials.

Web Accessibility

Both accessible volunteer opportunities and user-friendly technology have a role to play in volunteer engagement. Not only is web accessibility a best practice, but there are many ways government agencies must be in compliance with the law. Accessibility legislation and compliance standards, particularly regarding web accessibility, are rapidly changing. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is used as the gold standard in digital accessibility. Here are some easy ways to make your website more accessible, and things to think about when selecting a volunteer management software.

User Friendly

Make sure your websites and volunteer management software are user friendly. Dashboards, easy to use navigation toolbars, and guided instructions provide a better user experience for volunteers, regardless of their comfortability with technology.

In addition, think about the available customization options. You need to be able to make changes for accessibility in the future. It’s also helpful when managing volunteers within a large or diverse organization. No one likes to have multiple workarounds to make their user experience work!

Accessibility Standards Compliance

The best way to measure your digital accessibility is through the web accessibility standards (WCAG). People with disabilities often use screen readers and keyboards to navigate a site. Consider the following:

·      Use HTML tags and ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) landmarks to structure your website to help people navigate your site.

·      Make sure that your website’s links and interactive elements are navigable for those who cannot use a mouse and must use a keyboard.

·      Take advantage of special evaluation tools and browser extensions such as WAVE or Axe DevTools to check your website’s accessibility and inform improvements.

Communication and Training

Offering different communication channels (like emails, texts, announcements, and message boards) facilitates communication between volunteers and coordinators. Consider if your training materials are accessible- can people easily find help on your website or software? Include the contact information for someone who can provide accessibility assistance.


Make sure hyperlink text is descriptive. It should provide clear information about the link’s destination. Avoid using statements like "click here" or "find out more." Another consideration is confirming your website supports text resizing. Users with visual impairments often need and appreciate larger text sizes and high contrast text for readability.

Media and Forms

A website or volunteer management software is not as visually appealing without media.

·      Images: Make sure your images have alt text so people with visual impairments understand the image. Alt text also increases the search engine optimization (SEO) of your website, meaning higher ranked results in search engines.

·      Forms: Use clear labels, error messages, and instructions in forms, like volunteer applications and ways to submit volunteer hours. This helps all users navigate and understand the purpose of forms and all fields.

·      Video and audio: Include captions on videos. Provide transcripts for audio content. This helps users with hearing impairments to access the information. If you have multimedia content on your website, avoid auto playing. It can be distracting and disorienting, especially for those utilizing screen readers.

Next Steps

Creating accessible volunteer opportunities and technology fosters inclusivity and enhances the volunteer experience, both for those with and without disabilities. Prioritizing accessibility in volunteering means organizations are advocating for inclusivity and keeping up with relevant legislation.

Improving accessibility doesn’t happen in one day. Incremental changes make a big difference! Get started!

Offero’s Commitment

The Offero team is committed to supporting accessibility for volunteers and community members, view our Accessibility Statement to find out more. Ask us about our Accessibility Conformance Report. Schedule a demo to see accessibility in action!

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