By Rachel Walker
This past September, ATC launched its new website. A group of volunteer graduate students contributed their web design skills and competed in OpenAIR, a contest by Knowbility.org, to make this possible. Special thanks to Jayne Cravens at Knowbility, and team Julia: Julia Wu, Susan Doong, Nealon Suthersan, Lauren Vanvlierbergen, and Joshua Walker.
Following their contributions, Housing Advocate Kat Grau spearheaded the transition from the old page to the new one. Kat said that her main goals for the website were to “mirror the information on the old site, present a more intuitive format, and allow for quicker updates so that tenants can access relevant information.”
Several of the new site’s organizational features aim to streamline clients’ searches for information. Housing resources have been divided into landlord concerns and tenant concerns. Additionally, at the bottom of each fact sheet, tenants will find a link to counseling services so that they can plan their next steps. The website also includes more details about the history of Austin Tenants Council. “We have been around since 1973,” Kat stated, “so it’s important that we showcase our history on the website.” Guillermo Garza de Alexander, ATC’s Office Manager, and David Jones, an ATC board member, contributed pictures that appear throughout the site.
According to Kat, ATC is already seeing the impact of the new website’s design: “the numbers for our Online Counseling Program have dramatically increased because the website has made it more intuitive to access that service.” ATC’s Online Counseling Program allows tenants to submit questions through an online portal. Kat says that this program expands ATC’s accessibility: “our telephone and in-house counseling services are provided during business hours. Online counseling is an important resource for tenants who may not be able to reach us during the workday.” This service is available in English and Spanish to residents of Travis and Hays Counties.
As for what’s next, the website is a work in progress. Scott Rose, ATC’s Landlord-Tenant Manager, has a few ideas in mind: “we are going to add more fact sheets addressing frequent tenant concerns. We are also hoping to make our website fully bilingual.”