Dutchess County Government Nationally Honored
for “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” Website
Dutchess County Government has again been nationally recognized for its use of technology to improve how government connects with citizens. Dutchess County’s “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” website has been honored with a Center for Digital Government’s 2018 Government Experience Award in the County Government-to-Citizen Experience Category. The website, thinkdifferently.net, launched in February and offers simple navigation through the comprehensive array of local services available, connecting families and care givers to resources, information, and community events to enhance the lives of individuals of every ability.
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said, “This award recognizes what we set out to achieve – making connections between government and its citizens. Our ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ website unlocks access and opportunities for everyone, regardless of ability, whether that means finding educational opportunities, services and programs, or inclusive events within the community. We are proud of this recognition of our ongoing efforts to ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ about our neighbors of all abilities and help every resident reach their fullest potential.”
The Government Experience Awards highlight government agencies that are using the web and beyond to radically improve the experience of government and push the boundaries of how citizen services are delivered. The “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” website was recognized for its focus on accessibility and inclusion for people of all abilities and was among only five other counties across the nation in the County Government-to-Citizen Experience Category. The website is a tool to empower families and individuals with special needs, as well as provide professionals new to the field or Dutchess County a starting point to learn about resources and grow in their role of supporting families.
The site was recognized in the Government-to-Citizen Category for its:
- Accessibility: Through ReciteMe, a cloud-based accessibility tool, users can choose between 15 accessibility services such as changing the font size, color scheme, or language; enabling a ruler or screen mask to improve readability; and text-to-speech features.
- Design/Interface: By asking simple questions such as, “Who,” “What,” and “Where,” users can quickly search for services based on age, diagnosis, and location. Other design features include a comprehensive Child Planning and Future Planning module, which helps family members navigate the complexities of planning for an individual’s service needs as they develop.
- Citizen Feedback: Contact information for Dutchess County Government staff, its 24-hour HELPLINE service, and service providers are provided prominently throughout the site to ensure users have quick access to additional information or to offer feedback on the site itself.
“State and local governments are responding to citizen wants and needs with increasingly sophisticated online experiences,” said Dustin Haisler, chief innovation officer for the Center for Digital Government. “This year’s Government Experience Awards winners have well-designed websites and innovative channels that provide citizens meaningful information and services, robust data integration and an exceptional user experience.”
This is the most recent of the many accolades Dutchess County Government has received for its information technology services. The County has been ranked in the top ten among the nation’s best all 15 years of the Center for Digital Government and National Association of Counties’ Digital Counties Survey in the 250,000-499,999 population category and is currently ranked first in the nation in the category. This year, the County also received the prestigious CIO 100 Award from the International Data Group for its Parcel Access.
Glenn Marchi, PhD, Dutchess County’s Commissioner of the County’s Office of Central and Information Services (OCIS), said, “Dutchess County Government has consistently been recognized on the national level for technology and innovation. This most recent recognition celebrates the months of collaboration, dedication, and hard work that went into creating the ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ website as a comprehensive directory of services and programs for every person of every ability. We will continue to think outside the box to provide exceptional service and meet the growing needs of users by developing digital resources that consistently improve the online experience, embrace diversity and accessibility, and are efficient and intuitive.”
Toni-Marie Ciarfella, PhD, Dutchess County’s Deputy Commissioner for Special Needs, said, “The process of navigating services can be intimidating and frustrating, so we designed the ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ website to be as intuitive and easy to use as possible. Equally important in the design, was to have key County staff’s contact information readily accessible, for times when a direct phone call or email was preferred. I am grateful for the tireless and dedicated work of our team at the County’s Office for Central and Information Services and our partner, Ashworth Creative.”
Check out all the information and resources on the ThinkDIFFERENTLY website.