How Form Automation Is Democratizing Government Services

Shutterstock

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Technology can help make services accessible to vulnerable and disadvantaged citizens.

Let’s face it: Interacting with many government services can be a hassle for many citizens. Whether obtaining an identification card or registering a new business, people are often faced with obstacles like making appointments in advance, filling out paper forms, and going to a government office in person.

These government services can especially fail to serve vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. Non-English speakers may struggle to make an appointment over the phone. Those with physical impairments may find it difficult to attend an in-person appointment.

Fortunately, technology is now stepping in, making government services more accessible to anyone and everyone and effectively democratizing civil engagement. And one of the biggest pieces of this puzzle is form automation. By digitizing and automating processes that have traditionally relied on paper forms, governments are reducing barriers to access critical services.

Reaching Non-English Speakers

Many governments struggle to serve their non-native language speakers. By digitizing forms, applications, and other constituent-facing processes, governments can better serve the non-English speaking segment of their population.

For example, governments can take advantage of automated translation technologies such as Google Translate. By integrating such software into their form automation processes and workflows, governments can easily offer the necessary forms in almost any language. The U.S. Social Security Administration, for instance, has now implemented a Multi-Language Gateway in combination with form automation processes to better serve non-English-speaking individuals.

Assisting the Mobility-Limited

Until the advent of the internet and digital technology, many government services required an in-person visit to a physical office. Documents had to be signed, photos had to be taken, or identification had to be verified. This has traditionally put citizens with mobility impairments at a disadvantage in accessing many services.

Citizens with issues like paralysis or Parkinson’s Disease that limit their ability to get around often depend on government services for assistance, but have trouble getting to the offices they need to in order to complete paperwork.

This disproportionately affects low-income people that might not have access to a vehicle. However, form digitization is bringing the necessary paperwork and processes right into their own homes. Disabled or mobility impaired residents of California can now apply for assistance entirely online, as can residents of Austin apply for reasonable accommodations under the Fair Housing Act. Whether it’s completing forms necessary for receiving critical government assistance or even registering an internet business they can run from home, form digitization is empowering the mobility-impaired to engage with their governments.

Helping the Physically Impaired

Physical impairments that prevent citizens from engaging with their governments, unfortunately, aren’t just limited to mobility. Citizens who are deaf, blind, or have other physical (and potentially mental) impairments also face similar hurdles. For a blind person, for instance, simply getting to a government office is only half the battle. They’re then faced with the process of filling out paper forms, which is usually a lengthy process, even assuming the forms are available in braille.

Form automation technology proves to be an excellent solution to these basic issues of access that physically impaired citizens face. When governments take their forms online and integrate them with digital technologies such as text-to-voice, deaf or blind individuals can more easily complete the necessary forms. Form automation for the physically impaired is one example of the broader movement in what’s known as Human Centric Design, where governments are employing digitally-focused innovation teams to redesign services to enable more, quicker, and easier access for all citizens.

While office visits and physical forms are still necessary for some services, form automation is going a long way towards democratizing access to government services for every citizen, no matter their circumstances or limitations.

Jonathon Ende is the founder and chief executive officer of SeamlessGov. This article was originally published by Nextgov.

NEXT STORY: Uber Agrees to Expanded Data Breach Settlement With FTC

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.