Each day, Austin residents engage over 45 different city departments and offices to gain access to services. Through its numerous programs and units, the City offers hundreds of services, from everyday amenities to emergency resources including food assistance, building permits, utilities, and more.

But the relationship between the City and its residents is evolving. Technological changes are reshaping the way in which residents engage in and expect services to be available and delivered. For example, a recent review found that 49% of residents used a mobile device to access the City’s website in 2018, as opposed to 8% in 2012. It’s obvious that meeting resident needs now entails ensuring that websites are mobile-friendly. Other obstacles, both physical and digital, such as language barriers, inaccessible locations, complicated eligibility requirements, or interactions that can only happen in person or on paper must be addressed to make services truly accessible. To truly meet resident needs, it’s incumbent on the City to identify and address barriers that block resident access to services.

As a step in updating and improving the City’s access efforts, the Service Access Project has set out to:

  • inventory City services that are public facing and involve a transaction

  • build a framework to assess services for accessibility, and

  • create a process for prioritizing services that would benefit from redesign and/or digital transformation.

City staff works hard to deliver services and to make sure those services are accessible. We are collaborating with partners throughout the city as we determine how best to build an accessibility framework. The more that workflows and processes can be streamlined, intuitive, and efficient for City workers, the better those services can be delivered to residents.

With that in mind, one of our key question is: what are the tools and resources that can help staff make services more available, accessible, and inclusive?