BC Provincial Outreach Program for Students with Deafblindness
The POPDB website tiled to create a pattern.


POPDB wanted an accessible website for their students and partners. As an organization that specializes in supporting students with deafblindness, POPDB wanted their website to be completely accessible while providing their team with analytics and complete content control.

Improved Accessibility Online

Working with the Rally team was a positive experience. The designers and developers were friendly and listened to us. They asked thought provoking questions that helped tease out our needs and guide the process. They were open to learning about deafblindness to aid the design and development of our website.  

Our main contact, Rachel, kept us informed of each step in the process and promptly answered any questions that we had (and sometimes we still have!). Knowing that Rachel was accessible to us was awesome. 

It was a pleasure to work with Rally and have recommended them to other provincial programs who are looking to re-do their websites. 

- Allana Pierce, Program Coordinator/Teacher, POPDB

Who is POPDB?

At Rally, we build websites for school districts. But every now and again, we connect with a fabulous organization in the education sector in search of a new website. That's how we wound up working with the Provincial Outreach Program for Students with Deafblindness (POPDB).

Allana Pierce, Program Coordinator/Teacher at POPDB, says the unique role of POPDB is "To provide support to BC school teams working with kindergarten to grade 12 students with deafblindness. Because deafblindness is an information-gathering disability, our focus is on communication, learning, social interactions, mobility, and access to information." 

What does POPDB do?

The support POPDB provides to school teams is comprehensive. Allana says their resources include, "Consultation through direct or remote collaboration, facilitating online and in-person professional development opportunities on topics related to the education of individuals with deafblindness, and teaching courses in deafblind Intervention to educational assistants who work directly with students with deafblindness."

The POPDB website on a mobile view showing their supports listed on the front page.
POPDB provides comprehensive support.

In addition to the usual audience of parents and students, POPDB works with a wide variety of educators and specialists, such as:

  • Intervenors
  • teachers for students with visual impairments
  • teachers for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • orientation and mobility instructors
  • educational assistants
  • inclusive education teachers
  • speech language pathologists
  • occupational therapists
  • physiotherapists
  • classroom teachers
  • ASL Interpreters
  • Brailists
  • other agencies, such as the Canadian Deafblind Association.

"Over the years," Allana recalls, "we have heard from school professionals in other jurisdictions (national and international) that they look to our website for information and strategies." POPDB provides resources and supports that are integral to providing quality education to students with deafblindness. Their website is an amazing resource for educators and professionals throughout BC and beyond. So, of course, they wanted a website that makes it as easy as possible to share all of their supports while staying accessible to all users.

The old POPDB website. Expand Image
The old POPDB website.

The Challenge

"The Accessible BC Act was passed a couple years ago," Allana says. "The intention of the Act is to commit to supporting people with disabilities meaningfully." Similar legislation exists in other provinces in Canada and nationally in the USA.

"Many of our students require accessibility devices and software to access their schoolwork," Allana adds. "Most websites on the internet present barriers to those with deafblindness, visual impairments, blindness, other visual perceptual disabilities, and mobility challenges as they do not work effectively with accessible technology.

"When we checked our old website with an accessibility evaluation tool (WAVE), there were many problems with it. As a result, POPDB decided to look for a website developer to help recreate our website with accessibility in mind. We felt it was important that our website is accessible as an example to school teams who support students with deafblindness and to the wider community."

Accessibility was top of mind for POPDB, but they had a few other stumbling blocks on their old website. There were no analytics to track which resources were most popular. They also couldn't control all the content on their old website. "Fixing errors or adding content could take weeks," Allana remembers.

Part of the homepage of POPDB's site where they share resources for intervention, communication, and senses.
It's easy for POPDB to share their resources with Rally.

The Solution

"When we were looking for a website developer," Allana recalls, "Rally came up as one of the few Canadian companies that offered to make websites according to WCAG 2.1AA. They also specialized in school districts and independent schools. We felt that their expertise in education and understanding the need for accessibility would be a good fit for us."

At Rally, we develop all of our websites according to the WCAG 2.1AA requirements. It's important to us, and to our clients, that anyone, of any ability, can access information online. We want to provide websites that bring together communities - and everyone in them.

While POPDB doesn't need all the specialization Rally offers for school districts, there are still features of the CMS that improve daily use and help inform strategy. POPDB can control all of the content on their website, meaning they won't have to wait for weeks to add resources or have spelling mistake corrected. With analytics on their new website, POPDB can see what pages are most popular with their audience.

The Result

"Responses to our website have been positive," Allana says. "We have heard that users like the look and organization of the new website. A quick check of the accessibility of our website with an accessibility evaluation tool (WAVE), our accessibility has improved."

When we launched the POPDB website, it scored 100% on Google LightHouse's automated accessibility test. While a lot of website accessibility is set in the website's code, one visible feature is the contrast switcher, that allows users to choose the colour contrast for them to engage with content.

Allana and her team do a great job monitoring the website to ensure it stays accessible: "Our old website had numerous errors.  Currently, our home page has one error (empty button). Because I have access to the website, I can look to fix that."

As POPDB can control all the content on their website, it's easy to ensure that any content errors - from spelling mistakes to misplaced headings - can be corrected in a timely manner. "By going with Rally as our website developer and host, we have access to the dashboard ourselves and can make updates as soon as they are needed."

The website also has a built-in dashboard to track visitor analytics. POPDB's old website didn't have any data. "Now we can monitor," Allana says, "and that is helpful because we can see what areas of the website are of interest to users. This allows us to create and develop new content for our teams." These insights help POPDB determine what's most important to their audience and make strategic adjustments to continue to fill the demand.