RTC Using Web to Support Community Inclusion of People with Disabilities
Employment and postsecondary education. Housing and residential services. Direct support workforce. Community life. These are some of the areas of work in which the Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC) has been widely recognized for decades. And now its extensive resources and expertise are even more accessible and available to all through its newly redesigned Web site, http://rtc.umn.edu.
The RTC is a center within the Institute on Community Integration (ICI) that focuses on community living for individuals with intellectual, developmental and other disabilities. “The redesign of the RTC Web site allows us to use more of the latest technologies to disseminate our research, training, and technical assistance work,” says Web redesign project manager Kristin Dean. “It allows us to reach a more diverse audience than we previously could. For instance, social media is now a part of doing business and our new site ties in with our Facebook page and our Twitter feed. The redesigned site is also optimized for all browser types, which means the user will get an optimal experience no matter what device they are using: tablet, smart phone, or Web.”
The more streamlined home page of the site showcases the center’s best-known resources and projects in a user-friendly fashion for multiple audiences. There are home page links to the College of Direct Support, Self-Advocacy Online, and the reports of the National Residential Information Systems Project (RISP), for example. Visitors can also easily find publications such as Impact and Policy Research Brief. Because the site is optimized for any browser, highly mobile audiences, such as Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) interested in the DSP newsletter Frontline Initiative, can easily access it from the RTC home page and read its 30+ issues on their smart phones while out in the field.
A new feature on the home page that gives a personal touch to the site is a letter from the RTC’s director, Amy Hewitt. In it she notes that the goal of the RTC is “...to support the aspirations of persons with developmental disabilities to live full, productive and integrated lives in their communities” and that the knowledge produced by the RTC’s research is only useful if it’s accessible. This drive toward accessibility is a key motive behind its Web site redesign, as well as other innovative communication efforts of the RTC (see the August 2012 FYI at http://ici.umn.edu/news/fyi/aug12.html).
To help keep the RTC site’s content fresh, and to make its updating more efficient, it’s been built off the database that provides the content for the ICI main Web site (ici.umn.edu). The content for RTC products and projects that’s entered into the ICI site, which is updated monthly by the ICI Publications Office, is automatically fed to and displayed on the RTC site.
Revamping RTC’s Web site has been a team effort. In addition to Kristin, others working on the project have been John Westerman (server support and site migration), Shawn Lawler (graphic design, overall concept development, user interface engineering), Kevin Bullock (server support), and Amanda Ryan (graphic design).
FFI about the new RTC Web site, contact Kristin at firstname.lastname@example.org.