An Accessible GOTC Plan

People with disabilities are part of every community. Ensuring that census materials and outreach activities are accessible benefits everyone who wants to make sure all people are counted in the 2020 Census.

The Census Bureau has stated that there are 56.7 million people with disabilities in the US, totaling approximately 19 percent of the non-institutionalized US population. Some believe that number is closer to 25 percent, one in four Americans. Nearly 20 percent of people with disabilities in the US live in areas that are considered hard-to-count (HTC) by the Census Bureau. Because people with disabilities, just like everyone else, will be asked to self-respond to the census, it is important to consider accessibility in planning advocacy and outreach campaigns.

The Census Bureau has indicated that next year’s census will be fully accessible to everyone. The internet self-response option is legally required to be compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Bureau has stated that they will be conducting checks to ensure that all of their electronic and information technology systems comply with the law. There will be an American Sign Language video guide available to help people who choose to respond online. In addition, Braille and large-print guides will be available to assist with self-response by mail. The Census Bureau’s telephone contact centers will utilize Telephone Device for the Deaf (TDD) technology at conduct interviews and answer questions by phone.

Include Everyone, Count Everyone

The Census Bureau is making sure the 2020 Census is accessible. It’s up to us to make our outreach efforts are fully accessible as well. For example, will your census event be held at an accessible location or will it be inaccessible to those with mobility issues? Will your 2020 Census handouts be available in accessible formats or will it be inaccessible to people who are visually impaired? Will it be assumed that someone with a developmental disability cannot complete the questionnaire without someone else completing it for them?

Physical Accessibility
Be sure to host any 2020 Census event at an accessible location. If parking is provided, wheelchair accessible parking should be available with an accessible entrance to the facility (i.e. if there are stairs to the entrance be sure ramps or lifts are available). Within the facility be sure to have an accessible room and an accessible path to the room, along with accessible microphone stands or microphones that participants can use.
All 2020 Census outreach videos should have captions in order to be accessible. There are several ways to provide captions, including open captions, those that are burned in or embedded onto the video itself, accessible transcripts of the videos or even simple YouTube captions, but make sure they have been edited for accuracy first.
Auditory Accessibility

When hosting 2020 Census events, use microphones when speaking, and ask participants to do the same. Face participants when speaking, so people who read lips can understand you. If an individual uses an interpreter, speak clearly and provide time for the interpreter to sign, and don’t forget that when conversing with someone who uses an interpreter, speak directly to the person, not to the interpreter. Also consider hiring an interpreter to ensure that deaf and hard-of-hearing attendees can fully participate.

Visual Accessibility

You might want to share documents with people to encourage them to participate in the 2020 Census. These documents should be available in various accessible formats, standard size font (12 point), large size font (18 point), Braille, and perhaps even electronic versions for people who use screen readers. Consider having flash drives available for anyone who might need an electronic copy, or offer to email them a copy directly. You should use a sans-serif font, such as Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, Tahoma, and Verbena. Please note that Times New Roman is not an accessible font.

Website Accesibility
Be sure to make any 2020 Census website accessible. People should be able to navigate all your website’s menus and all of its interactive functions without a mouse and be able to use assistive technology such as a screen reader. Create content with clear layouts that make it easy for users to see and hear content. Also be sure the website can be accessed and read with various assistive technology devices that people might use such as screen readers
Word and WordPerfect

Most documents created in Word or WordPerfect are accessible to screen readers if they only contain text (that is, no photos, graphs and clip art). The use of any non-text media in an accessible document makes the document inaccessible. This can be resolved by including a text description to any non-text media (i.e. alt text).


Documents converted to PDFs are not always accessible. To check whether a PDF is accessible, click on the “Select Text” icon. If you can select the text with your mouse, then the document is accessible. If you are unable to do so, it’s not accessible.