From 2002-2017, Disability.gov was the federal government website for comprehensive information on disability programs and services in communities nationwide. The site connected individuals with disabilities, their families and caregivers, veterans and others to more than 10,000 resources on topics such as how to apply for benefits, find a job or pay for housing. Information on the site was compiled from federal, state and local government agencies; academic institutions; and nonprofit organizations. Disability.gov was managed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy in collaboration with 21 federal agency partners. Concepts was contracted to provide communications, outreach and content management services for Disability.gov for the start of the project until its sunset.
One of Concepts’ greatest strengths is its social media capabilities across multiple platforms. Under Concepts’ direction, Disability.gov was very active on social media platforms (i.e., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and WordPress), which were used to effectively disseminate information to the disability community.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in July 2015, Concepts developed and implemented a month-long social media campaign to celebrate this landmark legislation. Dubbed #DgovADA25, the campaign tied together all aspects of the site and its social media platforms. Concepts created a social media toolkit; a page on Disability.gov that included information about ADA celebrations being held in the Washington, D.C. area; a Twitter editorial calendar; and a guest blogger series. This resulted in attention from and subsequent use of content by a substantial number of the site’s federal partners.
Each month, Disability.gov’s blog (Disability.Blog) featured guest posts written by subject matter experts from federal and state agencies who shared their insights on topics such as employment of people with disabilities, fair housing and services for veterans with disabilities. Concepts worked closely with Disability.gov’s federal partners and other contacts in the disability community to find relevant and interesting content. These agencies and organizations used the considerable reach of Disability.Blog to publicize their initiatives and programs that support people with disabilities or highlight pertinent issues affecting the disability community. The Disability.gov team supported these efforts through promotion on the site, its social media platforms and email alerts to subscribers.
In 2010, Concepts introduced a new avenue to reach Disability.gov’s target audiences in the communities where they live and work. From 2010-2016, the team selected two key states each year to conduct outreach in on behalf of Disability.gov. These annual state visits brought Concepts in touch with influential representatives at government agencies and nonprofit organizations in areas with large populations of people with disabilities. These efforts allowed Concepts to meet with Disability.gov’s stakeholders directly and conduct grassroots-level outreach. The purpose of these trips was two-fold: to inform state and local organizations and agencies that provide services for people with disabilities about the value of Disability.gov, and to better reach the site’s primary audience – people with disabilities – where they work and live.
The inaugural road took place in 2011, targeting cities in Kentucky and West Virginia, and was followed by trips to Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Louisiana and Maine in subsequent years. The meetings held during these visits helped Concepts learn about the challenges and accomplishments of state and local organizations that serve people with disabilities and their families, as well as specific ways Disability.gov could help these populations. Information gathered from these visits also influenced the type of resources offered on Disability.gov and led to improvements in the site’s structure. In addition, the meetings generated reciprocal goodwill, enabling Concepts to establish mutually beneficial relationships with key contacts from state and local agencies and disability organizations. Additional outreach was also conducted to educate and engage key state organizations and agencies that Concepts was unable to visit in person.