Making applications inclusive for individuals who are visually impaired

AmyNossamanAmyNossaman Posts: 10 ✭✭✭
Beer Expert Combo Breaker Summit 2024 National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP)

How are you making sure that your grant/scholarship applications are inclusive of the visually impaired? Do you create another version of the online application that is accessible to assistive technology such as a screen reader?


  • HeidiFindlayHeidiFindlay Posts: 65 ✭✭✭
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    This is such a great question! We've been making sure our Foundation website is ADA and more compliant and we're reassured that it is, but I hadn't thought about Foundant. @Marius Dereskevicius - are our applications, follow ups, reports, etc, accessible to assistive technology?

    on behalf of Amy,


  • ECPollickByrnesECPollickByrnes Posts: 21 ✭✭✭
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    edited November 2020

    Hey @AmyNossaman and @HeidiFindlay - Long time, no see, you two! Hope you both have been well :)

    I love love LOVE this question - a friend of mine is a disability rights activist so I think about this issue a lot, especially with technology which is supposed to make all our lives easier, right? A couple things I want to chime in here (not specific to screen reader compatibility but moreso addressing ways we can support the disabled community!):

    • A lot of browsers have built in "zoom" abilities that can zoom in on the page the user is looking at to help those with vision impairment. You should absolutely advertise this so people know that they can use this to enhance/enlarge text if they have some type of impairment.
    • You could consider underwriting transcription services/pairing up those individuals with low vision with a student intern or someone who can provide dictation services to make sure everyone has equal access to your grants/scholarship site.
    • I used to work with someone who was a regional knowledge powerhouse on all things older adults and embracing the aging community. She shared with me this document (see attached) on things businesses and service providers can think about with an age-friendly lens. This speaks to some of the vision impairment I mentioned earlier but also other things to consider!

    I hope this helps! Thanks again, ladies, for starting and contributing to this very important conversation! :)


    E.C. Pollick Byrnes

  • TiffanyWilhelmTiffanyWilhelm Posts: 6 ✭✭
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    Hi everyone! I just wanted to add to this thread some feedback from a recent applicant who uses a screen reader. They said:

    "Due to a small staff and the Director's use of screen reader technology, web forms are often inaccessible and paperwork is very slow-moving. The Opportunity Fund's application and website is more navigable than other foundations but still required many hours of oversight and coordination to receive assistance from board members and staff throughout the process."

    I hope we can find a way to make the entire process accessible so that someone using a screen reader doesn't have to get assistance from others to complete applications in Foundant.

    Looking forward to hearing more from the Foundant team and others about how we can improve this!

  • TiffanyWilhelmTiffanyWilhelm Posts: 6 ✭✭
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    edited January 2022

    Oh, and P.S. - we'd like to invite some panelists/evaluators who use screen readers and I'm wondering about the accessibility of those functions too. Thanks!

  • JakeSharpJakeSharp Posts: 15 ✭✭
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    My name is Jake Sharp and I run our Support Team here at Foundant. Happy Friday!

    Thanks for sharing that feedback from your applicant. Like Marius mentioned above, while we aren't officially vetted by any specific external verification at this point, accessibility is something we want to be able to support to the best of our ability on the applicant side. To that end, we want to investigate specific instances like this where someone had a lot of issues. I'd love to get more info, if they are willing/have the time. Specifically, I'd love to know exactly what screenreader program they were using on GLM so we could do some testing with it on our end and see where we may need to make code changes to accommodate. I'd also be interested to see which pages/sections were the most challenging so we can focus specifically on those. If it makes sense to connect me with them directly, I'd be happy to, but if you could grab that info and send it our way, that would work too.

    As for the evaluator side of things, that is a bit more complicated but I'd still love to see if we have any gaps there as well. If you could pull the names of screenreader programs that those evaluators might be using, we can do some testing on our end as well for those specific tools.

    Feel free to add that information here or shoot me an email directly at

    Have a good weekend!

  • HeidiFindlayHeidiFindlay Posts: 65 ✭✭✭
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    @TiffanyWilhelm @JakeSharp

    My upfront disclaimer: I do not have experience with screen readers.

    Still, I did a little (little) digging and the problem might also be with the screen reader. There are those that are compatible with Chrome, but maybe not with Safari, Firefox. The screen reader might not be five-star.

    That said, the first thing that came to my mind today is - how can I help? Could I have a bunch of (free) screen readers to mess with, and access as an applicant to your Sandbox database application(s)? Don't forget Follow-Ups. And Evaluations. I am willing to pitch in here and give you an hour or two (with a little guidance, as in, tell me where you want me to check things out).

    Would we ever consider an audio submission? Hmm....


  • TiffanyWilhelmTiffanyWilhelm Posts: 6 ✭✭
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    @HeidiFindlay That is SOOO generous!

    Ideally, maybe there could be compensation for a person (or several) who regularly uses screen readers to consult on this. But let's stay in touch. Thanks for starting to look into this and for your willingness to help!

  • HeidiFindlayHeidiFindlay Posts: 65 ✭✭✭
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    of course. i could also try one on my own processes, but admittedly, i do not use all the bells and whistles that come with Foundant GLM!

  • HeidiFindlayHeidiFindlay Posts: 65 ✭✭✭
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    I have downloaded Serotek and WOW, this is not easy. I understand how using a screen reader will take someone a great deal of time - and they'll need help. Tabbing and spacing and entering are not as predictable as you would think.

    Incredibly difficult to know where you are (i closed my eyes and the screen reading would stop or jump based on tab/space bar location).

    When you get to the next screen, it doesn't start in any specific place, you have to be able to put your cursor someplace logical and helpful.

    No instructions to hit enter once you've typed something in

    Mouse doesn't place itself in any spot on the application, so the reader just "takes off" reading.

    reader doesn't tell you if you have more choices unless you space through the radials (which you would have to know to do).

    i'm sure there is more, but i stopped after 30 minutes (didn't get far, either!).

    my opinion - it is mainly the reader that doesn't tell you what is next or how to get there. since it could land anywhere on the page, you cannot anticipate how to write a grant app for it.... UNLESS you set up a different application for vision impaired....

    (longer version shared with Tiffany in separate messaging)

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