Musings: The Big Dig, building from a firm foundation

Any client that has ever worked with me has heard me use the phrase building from a firm foundation. It is the basis for any MasseyNet project.

One day, while reading about structural deficit and the at least 100 weak points that needed to be shored in the tunnel of Boston's "big dig" project, I knew it was time to change my advice to build from a firm foundation using quality materials!

One of our clients, Mountain State Centers for Independent Living, located in West Virginia, used their MasseyNet designed and built website as a training tool at the Disability Caucus held in Charleston WV July 9 through 12, 2006.

The training was entitled How to Use the Internet for Advocacy. A training room was set up with computer stations, including stations using assistive technology so that people who are blind or have low vision could participate. It was such a success that it came to the attention of the Governor's office and it was suggested that the format might be used as part of their emergency management planning.

This was a major accomplishment. West Virginia has one of the lowest per capita incomes in the United States, coming in at 49th. See Bureau of Economic Analysis. Consequently, they have limited available funds for any government funded project.

Set Goals

By defining specific goals and creating a thorough strategy which included identifying available quality content before we started to build, we were able to build their website from a firm foundation using quality materials. Almost fourteen years later this site remains firm on its foundation and accessible using today's technology and the content continues to be quality.

Nine years ago, the Mountain State Centers for Independent Living website was named a virtual Center for Independent Living for West Virginians and continues to receive funding due to its accessibility and the quality of its content, especially the online trainings.

Maintain the Integrity of the website

The reputation of the website as a central source of current information has grown to include legislative sessions. Each year when legislation sessions begin all disability related organizations and advocacy groups look to the Mountain State Centers for Independent Living site for the most current information and statistics. This includes legislators who use the site as their source of information and recommend that their constituents do the same.

A professionally planned website built from a firm foundation using quality materials.

As I look out on the wasteland of the Internet searching for websites in an attempt to locate information required for my daily life and work, I often find myself stumbling and tripping over the crumbling and broken roadways and am always on the alert for falling debris.

And I caution my fellow Internet travelers to wear a hard hat until the day comes that most websites are built from a firm foundation using quality materials containing current information.

-Nancy Massey, updated January 2014

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