Raising Awareness and Promoting Equal Rights: My Work with Handital

The organisation I have been working with over the past few months is Handital, a non-profitable, voluntary organisation that supports people with disabilities and their carers. I have created a website for Handital and this has made the project quite innovative and distinctive because they have never possessed their own personal site, and have relied significantly on their Facebook page to provide information about the organisation and attract new members. The website marks the first time a detailed account of Handital’s thirty six year history has been presented online. Investigating Handital’s history affirmed the importance of local history because if such community histories are not recognised, historical knowledge will become lost. Overall, the website’s main, yet implicit, argument is to show the public the significant contributions Handital has made for people with disabilities in the past, as well as in the present. It aims to encourage people to acknowledge the importance of non-profitable, charitable organisations like Handital and why they should be supported by the government as well as their local communities. In order to justify these arguments, I incorporated evidence such as old and more recent photographs of fundraising events, information from the Handital President’s 25th anniversary booklet and oral history interviews.  

When I met with one of the Committee Members for the first time, he explained to me the decrease in membership over the years as many members have passed away and others have simply left. Therefore, we agreed that another aim of the website would be to increase membership, particularly from a younger age group. I made the argument on the website that young people have been involved with the organisation and did this through including photos of younger people such as young adults between the ages of 20-30. The additional evidence I used to support this argument was the emphasis on the youth support group by ensuring online viewers they do not need to have a disability to join. Stating that the group meet once a month to enjoy a social outing may help Handital attract more young members. Furthermore, in order to attract a younger online audience, I included an application form in the ‘contact us’ section so people could easily fill in their details and send it through to Handital’s email, instead of sending it through the post. 

The website is divided into seven main themes: ‘home page,’ ‘about us’, ‘history,’ ‘events,’ ‘what’s on,’ ‘team members’ and ‘contact us.’ The ‘about us’ describes the organisation and the services they provide, the ‘history’ section explores the early establishment of Handital and the most significant moments in their history, the ‘events’ page provides information and visuals about Handital’s four main annual events and the ‘what’s on’ page shows individuals the advocacy of Handital and the current campaigns they are supporting. I believe dividing the website into these themes helps structure the website and ensures its clarity, and allows current members and the public to choose what in particular they want to view. For example, current members may only want to view the upcoming ‘events’ and the ‘what’s on’ pages. Each of these themes represent a crucial and fundamental aspect of Handital and dedicating a page to each allows new viewers to achieve a broad and diverse understanding about the organisation. 

Handital Foundation Members in 1983 at NSW Parliament House

Handital Committee members will benefit from this website because their organisation will be able to reach an online audience and fulfil the need of increasing membership which currently stands at around seventy people. Handital does not have a specific age target, however an increase in young people may increase its diversity and allow younger people such as young adults between the ages of 20-35 to become involved and take over the organisation one day. As Handital’s main office is located in Five Dock and their events occur in nearby restaurants, I believe the target region is the local community and Sydney’s Inner west. Furthermore, I am glad that the work I have been doing at Handital has been helpful as the Committee Members admitted to not having the time to scan photographs onto a USB and physically organise and label them into albums. Doing this work voluntarily, including the creation of the website, has saved time for the members. Furthermore, the website was crucial to the promotion and continuance of Handital as currently they are experiencing fear regarding the end of funding by the government in June 2020 which may possibly have an impact on the organisation. Hopefully, the website will attract a wider online audience who will join Handital, or even donate to their cause. 

I used Wix to create my website and before I began developing it, I spent a few hours over a four day period becoming familiar with Wix and its features and became privy to the types of creativity I could incorporate into the website. I abided by a red, white and green colour scheme throughout as this corresponded with Handital’s logo and also followed specific fonts to make the website flow and enhance the professionalism. I didn’t want to present the photos plainly so I discovered interesting ways to present them such as fades and click through galleries. Furthermore, I was asked by the Handital President to include translations in Italian on the ‘Home’ and ‘About us’ pages for the Italian members. However, the remaining sections were left in English so people can see that even though it was founded by Italian families, the organisation welcomes and accepts different cultures. 

The Handital website was announced at Handital’s annual celebration in honour of the International Day of People with Disability. Once launched, members will be provided with the link and an explanation about how to use it. Committee Members have agreed to place the link of the website onto their Facebook page so people will be able to gain a greater and more in depth understanding about Handital through accessing two different online forms with differing intentions. In order to ensure the sustainability of my project, I aim to teach one specific Committee Member in charge of admin how to update the website, particularly for the ‘events’ and ‘what’s on’ sections. I also need to complete scanning all the photographs I was given onto a USB and organise and label them into photo albums which I will hopefully have completed by the end of the year. Overall, I am very honoured and pleased that I got to work with such a wonderful and caring group of people.