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Hall school system puts focus on accessibility with upgraded website

POSTED: November 19, 2013 12:03 a.m.

The Hall County school system has upgraded its website in an effort to improve its digital presence in the community, especially for those with smartphones.

“What we’ve learned from the industry and our stakeholders is we need to have a mobile presence that is very simple and focused on addressing the most important things that our community, parents and students need to have on the fly,” said Aaron Turpin, executive director for technology.

Turpin discussed the Web upgrade at the Hall County Board of Education’s meeting Monday night, with board members following along on their phones.

The revamped website — live since Wednesday — has a navigation bar allowing users to get information about schools, school system departments, calendars and charter schools and programs of choice. It also has a “frequently asked questions” prompt.

Users can quickly perform several functions, such as apply for jobs, download school menus and register a child for school.

Turpin also showed board members a link enabling users to download electronic books.

“One of the things that research is very clear on is that, particularly for children in poverty, the more access they have to literacy materials, the better off they’re going to be,” he said. “This puts e-books in the hands of every kid ... at any time, waiting in the car pool line or whatever.”

Discussion about the Web upgrades started about 6-8 months ago, he said.

“We talked ... about how important our Web presence is in that effort,” Turpin told the board.

School system Web developers Joseph Canada and Luis Urrego helped Turpin in the presentation.

“We really put a lot of thought into this,” Canada said. “We tried to (view this) as the user — as a parent, student or teacher, or just someone who is (considering) to move to Georgia.

“We know that when you click on a website, the image and branding really tells the story of who you are.”

The website also features news items and a Twitter feed, featuring the school system’s current messages on the social media outlet. With the click of a tab, users also can view any page on the site in one of 44 languages.

“Hopefully, we’re marketing ourselves to a global community about what we are and what makes us different,” Turpin said.

Board Chairman Nath Morris said he planned to spend some time going through the site.

“Websites are living documents, so there’s always going to be change,” Turpin told the board. “We appreciate your feedback.”


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