ArcGIS StoryMaps helps King County to recognize Disability Awareness Month in a challenging year

King County celebrates the many contributions that people with disabilities make to our community and workforce every year. This year is no exception. In July, we marked the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act into law.

Red, white, and blue logo for #ADA30: anniversary of signing is noted as July 26, 2020.
#ADA30 logo courtesy of

On October 13, the King County Council officially proclaimed October as Disability Awareness Month. Every year, a committee develops blog articles and arranges lunch ‘n’ learn activities, panel discussions, and other events.

This year, the Disability Awareness Month Committee wanted to start a conversation about how people with disabilities are being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Committee created “Navigating the coronavirus pandemic with disability” to introduce issues, share stories, provide resources for individuals and families, and give everyone helpful tips to support people of all ages and abilities in our workplaces and communities. Several King County employees and service providers shared their perspectives and how they are problem-solving in a difficult time. 

A woman wearing a rainbow colored mask sits at a desk in an office. The calendar behind her is set for October 2020, Disability Awareness Month.
King County employee Michele shared the challenges and opportunities of living with disability in a historic time.

Esri’s ArcGIS StoryMaps offered an excellent platform to share these vibrant stories and rich resources. This multimedia presentation tool, which King County staff use as part of the web GIS and mapping environment ArcGIS Online, supports video, images, and both static and interactive maps. The StoryMaps builder has options for creating custom themes that can enhance accessibility for people with visual limitations and sensitivities. Creators can add generous alternate text descriptions of graphics, photographs, and videos to help people with limited or no vision experience and understand visual content.

Screen shot of sample alternate text entry to describe a photo
For every visual in your Story Map, you have an opportunity to add alternate text for people using screen readers.

Esri promotes accessibility through platform improvements, tutorials, and blog articles. This helps creators meet national requirements for accessible online content. StoryMaps creators will want to learn about accessibility best practices for all content, including text, photographs, videos, and graphics.

Technology offers many benefits for people with disabilities to get information and services, engage, and participate. Making our online content accessible for people of all ages and abilities has never been more urgent as we all deal with a global pandemic.

A laptop shows a slide with instructions to access closed captioning. To the right is video of an American Sign Language interpreter signing as a narrator reads the slide.

To learn more about the pandemic experience for people with disabilities and join in the conversation, view “Navigating the coronavirus pandemic with disability” at

The image is a screen shot of the Story Map cover. To the left is the title, Navigating the coronavirus pandemic with disability. To the right is an image of the coronavirus, floating balls with red spike proteins.

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