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How to Keep Your School's Website ADA Compliant

How to Keep Your School's Website ADA Compliant

By: admin

24 Apr 2017

Websites in the education sector and large-scale post-secondary institutions with multiple departments, budgets, and capabilities are notoriously behind best practices. Not only are they largely insecure, but their functionality and usefulness to both students and educators alike suffer due to legacy concerns, turnover in IT, and changes in technology.

However, there’s one major usability factor that administrators and IT professionals tend to overlook above all others: compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and its standards for website usability.

Under Title III of the ADA, discrimination based on disability in places of public accommodation is prohibited. That means restaurants, day care centers, and doctor’s offices must accommodate persons with disabilities, but in the digital age, that is extended to websites receiving money from state or federal governments. Guidelines from the Department of Justice, while not yet extended to websites owned and operated by private parties, rely heavily on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, which provides instruction on how web content can be made more accessible for those using tools to help access websites. Without delving into legal minutiae, there are a few ways schools can prevent a visit from the Office of Civil Rights or other federal agencies and improve their website’s usability for those with disabilities:

-        Review the WCAG 2.0 standards to help guide your transition to a more ADA-friendly website. They include details on how to help improve functionality for disabilities such as blindness, low vision, deafness, hearing loss, learning disabilities, limited movement, speech and cognitive disabilities, and photosensitivity.

-        If you’re an institution that provides online learning, you may want to study and follow the terms of the settlement agreement made between the DOJ and edX,Inc.

-        Hire a consultant or design firm to help audit your website and to provide a comprehensive roadmap for the project, including User Experience alterations, complete alternative text revisions site-wide, and transcribing all audio and video materials to a reliable text format.

-        Ensure current and incoming IT and website professionals in your employ adhere to ADA compliance for all pending and future changes to websites associated with your institution.

While determining the amount of time and resources it will take to ensure your site is ADA compliant depends on several factors, including the modernity of the website, any legacy pages or subdomains that can’t be easily modified, and the number of pages contained within the site itself. For younger, smaller education institutions, it’s likely that the project can be completed internally or with the help of a few contractors. A larger, state-level institution may require much more attention. Either way, keeping your school’s lectures, videos, and instructional materials accessible to everyone is more important now than ever before. If you’re about to undergo a website redesign or simply want to keep your new materials compliant going forward, the transcription professionals at Transcription Hub can help. Contact us today to get an estimate on your project or get started with our education-specific transcription services right away.