What it means

Clients should have access to the same opportunities and have the same dignified experience no matter how they access services—whether that’s in person, over the phone, on a desktop computer, or a mobile device.

Clients should also have access to a welcoming door no matter where they are in the process: filling out an application for the first time, renewing their benefits, or reporting a change in their circumstances.

Why it matters

Clients say:

“I don’t have a desktop computer, and my mobile phone is my only connection to the internet. I need to apply for benefits, but my state’s application isn’t mobile-friendly and I can’t complete the application on my phone. I need a way to access benefits programs that works for me and my circumstances.”

How to do it

1. Build for all digital services, but build for mobile first.

83% of Americans own smartphones, and 25% of low-income households rely on a smartphone for internet access. Online applications need to work on mobile browsers to be accessible.

  • Design and test all screens on a mobile layout first, and then expand to fit desktop screens. This ensures access on mobile devices.
  • Collect data on which devices clients use to access your service, and ensure that usability testing and quality assurance include testing on the majority of those devices.
  • Build a responsive website that serves both mobile and desktop users, rather than creating a native phone application. Responsive websites are simpler for administrators to manage and easier for clients to access.

2. Provide a dignified, supportive experience.

Services should support clients and shouldn’t include overly complex barriers to access.

  • Limit the use of legal language and bold warning text, which can be intimidating for users.
  • Login procedures often serve as a barrier to access for clients. Simplify login procedures or, even better, don’t require a login at all.
  • Don’t require clients to complete remote identity proofing to apply for benefits or access services.
  • Track frequently asked questions and offer answers in an easy-to-find FAQ section on your website.

3. Ensure all clients can access services.

Information should be accessible for all clients in multiple languages and across all levels of ability.

  • Make content available in all of the most common languages spoken in your region.
  • Make sure websites are compatible with screen readers so that those with visual impairments and disabilities can access the content.
  • Measure reading level with tools like Hemingway editor and Readable. Information should be written at a fifth grade reading level.
  • Aim for compliance with the WCAG 2.1 web accessibility guidelines.

What we measure

Shorter Wait Times

A client should be able to find or get a response to a simple question in under 15 minutes.

Online Accessibility

At least 50% of applications should be coming in online and from mobile devices.

Parity in Outcome Metrics

A client’s likelihood to enroll and be approved for benefits should be the same regardless of how they apply.