The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Twin Cities 2011, March 26-27

The Eye-Link Foundation

The Eye Link Foundation is an all volunteer, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. We provide grants for technology and software to assist those who are blind or visually impaired. Many of our grant recipients receive text-to-speech software, mobile scanning devices, CCTV's, Braille note-taking devices, and talking GPS. By providing funds to acquire much needed assistive technology , Eye-Link grant recipients are better equipped to gain independence. Receiving a Braille note-taker can help a student continue their education. A mobile scanner can help a blind small business owner. A CCTV helps an elderly low-vision Grandmother read cards, letters, newspapers, and recipes.



Our financial support comes entirely from individual donors and a limited number of corporate/foundation grants. Funding resources for these specific technologies are limited. A blind person can apply to Minnesota State Services for the Blind, they can seek help from family, friends, a local Lions Club, or — if they had the personal monetary resources — they can purchase their own technology. The net effect is many blind people being left behind, needing costly technology critical in helping them acquire new skills and preparing for potential employment. The Eye-Link Foundation was created exclusively to fill these needs. We are one of the few resources for assistive technology funding. In a case where State Services for the Blind has denied a blind person’s request, an application can be made to The Eye-Link Foundation for help in acquiring needed technology.

What new functionality we are looking for

There are three major areas we'd like to focus on in regards to overhauling our website. One would be having a site that is easily processed both visually and through talking software, such as JAWS. Many websites are visually oriented - you need a mouse to navigate and click. For visually impaired or blind people, they experience the site through text to speech software and navigate using only the keyboard. We'd like to have a site that is in compliance with the Bobby Approved guidelines set forth by www.accessible.org.



We have a grant application online that needs improvement. We've heard from applicants that the application itself is hard to navigate with text-to-speech software and is confusing to fill-out. A more streamlined application process online will make it easier for those in need to request help.



Eye-Link relies solely on the generosity of private citizens and a few corporate grants. It would help our grant efforts to have a professional looking website. Specifically, we need a new logo and consistency throughout our site. The graphics are outdated and a bit cartoonish. While the site needs to be accessible to those with text-to-speech software, it also needs to be easy and pleasant to look at.



How the new functionality will help

Eye-Link started out as a small private fund. We were thrilled to grow and achieve our 501(c)3 status. However, the site still looks like a Mom and Pop project. A sleeker and more professional website will greatly help in our grant seeking and marketing projects. The more money we bring it, the more we are able to provide blind and visually impaired Minnesotans with life-changing technology and training.

We've been hesitant to promote the website on social-networking sites because it's such a clunker. A new site will help us gain more presence on the web and hopefully reach more private donors as well.



How our organization will use the technology

Who will use the technology

Before & After Snapshots

Thumbnail_screen%20shot%202011-03-18%20at%204.03.03%20pm Thumbnail_screen%20shot%202011-03-27%20at%207.12.40%20pm

4 Messages from Supporters

2011-02-15 02:49:53 UTC
Anonymous

Eye-Link's sole purpose is to provide adaptive technology to blind and visually impaired Minnesotans. A service that is life-altering to inviduals in need. As a Board Member, I am honored to be part of such a worthy cause.

Eye-link’s current website is out-of-date and is not user friendly. An updated website would help to inform and educate potential donors of the great cause that the Eye-Link Foundation represents. The need to continue to recruit donors thru a user friendly, informative and professional website would help to cut operating costs and ultimately allow more money to be used toward the visually impaired.

In addition, as technologies change, the necessity for an updated website to adapt to those changes continues. The visually impaired need to be able to utilize the site to streamline their process and to communicate with Eye-Link effectively. It is our mission to help those and an updated website would be a huge benefit to that process.

Unfortunately funding is more of a challenge and it is not within the foundation's budget to afford a complete website update. With your support, we can accommodate the requirements of our applicants as well as inform the current and potential donors in a cost effective manner.

I hope that you consider our cause and help us to help those in need. Your support would make a huge difference to so many people.

2011-02-15 03:25:46 UTC
Anonymous

As the spouse of a board member I have seen the positive impact that this organization has made on the lives of the grant recipients. The goal of Eye-Link is to minimize administrative costs so that more of the resources can be used to provide technology to those people in need. As such, the deficiencies in the website have not been addreseed. In addition, the challenges that exist in making a webiste both functional and accessible to the visually impaired requires more resources than the organization can commit at this time.

2011-02-15 14:37:11 UTC
Jack Weber

The thing that impreses me about Eye-Link is that they have raised thousands of dollars for the blind but not one penny is paid to board members. The board is active and everyone an unpaid volunteer!

2011-02-15 18:54:58 UTC
Jim J.

As a Blind person I have had many friends and acquaintances that seek assistance from Eye-Link. The Eye-Link website is one of the only methods of acquiring an assistive technology grant application. A Blind person may have a sighted companion or instructor helping them, but it is extremely important that the the Eye-Link website be fully accessible by people who use only a keyboard to navigate the site. It is also critical that the Grant Application be fully accessible and that the applicant can fill-in the Application and print a copy. The Eye-Link site is a unique portal to give Minnesotan's enduring severe sight loss an electronic avenue to find and acquire adaptive technology. In order to meet these goals, it could certainly use a make-over!

Our Mission

The Eye-Link Foundation is a volunteer based organization that provides technology, software and related training to assist Minnesotans who are blind or visually impaired.