The City Council today will receive an annual update on the implementation of the city’s communications efforts as well as its new website launch in June, both with the goals for increasing inclusivity and language access.
The council meets in chambers at City Hall, 735 Anacapa St.
The update highlights the strategies for outreach, achievements, actions in progress and goals for the coming year, staff said in its report to the council.
Situated within the city administrator’s office, the public information officer/community engagement manager coordinates the city’s overall outreach efforts and is responsible for developing citywide guidance for communications and outreach. A communications specialist and city TV staff also contribute to those efforts.
A major initiative of the city administrator’s office has been to improve outreach to extend to a greater portion of the community, and to increase transparency and invite public engagement, staff said.
Language access discussions at the start of projects, rather than addressing topics like content translation and accessibility once the project is underway, “creates more efficient planning to address the need for Spanish translation and interpretation and online accessibility,” staff said.
To improve online accessibility and translation, staff not only translates documents and online posts into Spanish, but also gives thought to fonts, colors and text size so that information can be read better by users with visual impairments.
As part of its technology assistance for council meetings, the city has incorporated the use of the Listen Everywhere application. This allows attendees at meetings to download the application, use their own earphones and get hearing assistance in English or translation to Spanish.
For those who opt to view the meetings from home, there are a variety of ways to view the meetings online in both English and Spanish. The use of closed captioning is also available on meeting videos.
The public information officer continues to work with the city’s entire communications team to draft and approve a Spanish language access plan that will guide city efforts in presenting a unified approach to creating messaging that reaches Spanish-speaking audiences.
State of the City planning will begin in just a few weeks for a community-oriented State of the City Address/Open House that will allow the community to engage with staff and public officials, hear about upcoming projects and accomplishments and get questions answered, staff said.
“In times of emergency, it is imperative that language is not a barrier to communicating essential information,” staff said. “The city has a Spanish cadre in place that is activated in emergencies to provide that communication, but staff continues to work toward growing the number of employee participants and providing formal training.”
In addition, the communications staff continues to work toward developing a comprehensive and updated guide to brand identity and social media use to ensure communication consistency across departments.
Spanish translation work continues toward not only identifying and translating existing documents, but also increasing the city’s capability of creating as much content as possible in Spanish, staff said. Improvements in this area will take time and are ongoing.
The city also is looking at redesigning the weekly newsletter, relaunching the quarterly business newsletter and relaunching the quarterly 50-minute magazine show as a bi-weekly, five- to seven- minute show that better suits today’s busy audiences.
The city’s website is one of our most robust outreach tools, staff said. The site launched in June and from the start of website planning, staff has made a solid and ongoing commitment toward inclusivity of all website visitors. The city’s website was designed with the idea in mind for making web content accessible to people with disabilities.
This was accomplished in the following ways: simple and consistent information architecture; using “Skip to” navigation links that allow a visitor to easily jump to the main content area of a page; main site navigation and sub-navigation uses lists that are easier for screen readers without unnecessary code; images have alt text; Accessibility Widget is installed on every page allowing improved compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines; and the use of PDFs that integrate with Adobe tools to assist blind and visually impaired users.
Since its launch, a web analytics comparison of pre- vs. post-launch shows the following: People are more engaged with the website while spending less time on it.
“This demonstrates that they are getting what they need more often and finding it quicker than before,” staff said. “Traffic coming from social media is engaging much more with the website. Traffic from mobile, search and social channels has increased because we’ve optimized our content and design for search.”
Under the council consent calendar, staff recommends the council adopt the 2024-2024 salary plan applicable to unrepresented managers and professional attorneys, and the 2022-24 salary plan applicable to certain unrepresented safety managers.
Also under the council consent calendar, staff recommends the council authorize and direct the City Clerk’s Office to accept applications through Oct. 10, 2022 to fill scheduled vacancies on various city advisory groups and the unscheduled vacancies resulting from resignations received in the City Clerk’s Office through Sept. 21.