Launched by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (DOL/ODEP) in 2008, ePolicyWorks utilizes crowdsourcing technology to better coordinate the flow of ideas and information between federal policymakers, government representatives and key stakeholders, and has become a model for national policy-building efforts. The centerpiece of this initiative is an accessible crowdsourcing tool that enables federal agencies, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders to work together on policies supporting the employment of people with disabilities, including those from underserved and marginalized populations. To help explain this tool to new users, Concepts Communications created the video below to guide participants through the online dialogue process.
Concepts Communications was instrumental in the conceptualization and development of the ePolicyWorks workspaces and provided ongoing support to ensure the platform’s success. Within the ePolicyWorks collaborative workspaces, Concepts Communications managed the creation and administration of various workgroups, which worked together on a diverse range of topics related to disability and employment. Following a comprehensive needs assessment, Concepts Communications designed each group’s unique workspace by providing guidance and suggestions for its layout, features, trainings and other factors key to its successful implementation and use.
Through ongoing trainings, demonstrations and regular outreach to participants, Concepts Communications engaged and motivated program and policy experts from federal agency partners and key stakeholder groups to add relevant information to the appropriate ePolicyWorks workspaces. Concepts Communications also worked directly with members to facilitate online discussions within ePolicyWorks, outline best practices and provide suggestions on how to engage other members for meaningful and informative interactions. To guarantee the accessibility of documents and other materials posted to the workspace, Concepts Communications conducted ongoing usability testing and provided complementary training resources, including accessible and printable user guides. After 10 years, the workspaces were retired and efforts were transferred to reach new audiences through the ePolicyWorks crowdsourcing platform.
In May 2013, Concepts Communications introduced an accessible crowdsourcing tool to complement the ePolicyWorks online workspaces. Since its inception, Concepts Communications has hosted more than 60 ePolicyWorks online dialogues, several of which have received accolades for their successes and won awards for their innovation and inclusivity. To date, these online dialogues have included more than 25,000 participants, 6,000 unique ideas and 11,000 comments.
To ensure the success of each ePolicyWorks crowdsourcing event, Concepts Communications established and follows a standard methodology for setting up the dialogues, training participants, conducting outreach, collecting metrics and reporting outcomes. To promote each online dialogue and engage our intended audiences, Concepts Communications employs a variety of promotional tactics, including targeted eblasts, social media outreach, Twitter chats and more. An important component of this process is the metrics and analysis report, which is developed by Concepts Communications and provided to the dialogue hosts, participants and the general public at the conclusion of each dialogue. In addition to the metrics from the event, Concepts Communications also provides a policy analysis by working with the dialogue hosts to review the participant submissions and assess the potential value and other implementation factors for each idea. As with the workspaces, all supporting materials are tested for accessibility and usability and meet all requirements set forth by Section 508.
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