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Keyword Searches

The ADA Portal has several features to help people find answers – especially first-time users. Below the search box on the home page is the question – “Not sure what to search for?” and the link to Keyword Searches. When you click on this, the “keyword search” page appears with more than 300 terms and words in alphabetical order. The search results for these key terms are preset. In addition, alternate terms are listed that reference the proper word for the results. As an example, “therapet” and “therapy animals” direct you to “service animals.” Give it a try!

Ctrl F (“find on this page”)

Often times when you perform a search, your results will include a lengthy document with your key words hidden among the pages. This month’s tip is an easy way to find the word(s) you want within that document. When you pull up the document, you can hit “Ctrl F” and a “find” box will appear. Put the words you are searching for in this box; hit enter; and you are immediately at the first occurrence of the word(s). You have the option to “find next” to locate all the places the word(s) appear. As an example, if you are executing a search on "gang showers”, one of the results is Guide to ADAAG Provisions which is over 100 pages in length. Hit Ctrl F; enter gang showers; and you are instantly on the right page.

This technique works with all web pages and applications like Word, Outlook and others. Give it a try!

Tip of the Month: “Key Words”

The ADA Portal is one of the most comprehensive resources available to find answers to a wide range of topics dealing with disability issues. And, the more “key words” a person uses, the better the results will be.

Let’s use a recent question posed to the ADA Portal as an example of the effective use of “key words.”

Question: When traveling out-of-state, can I use my paratransit pass?

How to Search the Portal: The more appropriate “key words” a user inputs into the search box, the better the search results will be. For example:

Key Words: Search Results:

paratransit - 122 matching documents found
paratransit eligibility - 45 matching documents found
paratransit eligibility visitor - 8 matching documents found

With each key word that is entered, the search results are narrowed and the results are more efficient. If you now click on “highlight key words,” the search will be even easier.

Try this tip and you will soon realize what a fantastic tool is!

Use Quote Marks Around Phrases For Better Results

Want to narrow your searches and eliminate irrelevant documents? The ADA Portal can provide more effective results by using quotation marks around the words that describe the phrase you are searching for. As an example, by not adding quotes around effective communications, you will receive results that contain both these words in the text, but not necessarily together or in that order. However, by searching “effective communications” using quotes, you will only receive results where these two words are together and in that order.

In our example, a search on the terms Effective Communication without using quotes returned 431 documents. By adding quotation marks, the phrase "Effective Communication” reduced the search returns to only 238. Learn to be more specific with your key words by using quotes around multiple words and your search results will become more precise and more efficient.

When a Negative is Really a Positive

Improve your search results by using a minus sign (-) followed by a key word that you don’t want in the results. Here’s an example: A search for “reasonable accommodations” will yield 896 results. But if you do not want any of the results to include settlement agreements, you should type in “reasonable accommodations -settlement” in the search box. This strategic use of the minus sign (followed by the word, settlement) eliminates any settlement agreements, returning 435 results, or a 50% reduction from the original search. Try using this minus sign in your future searches to eliminate certain types of documents. The outcome will often produce more usable results.

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