Arizona Rural
Schools Association
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School Website Accessibility

How does your Arizona school website stack up?

Many schools around the U.S. have had complaints filed against them with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) for non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Arizona schools are no exception. So, how do you avoid these issues, and why do you need to?

It's the law!

Schools that receive federal funds are required to comply with the ADA requirements for website accessibility. The schools that have negotiated agreements with the OCR are following the WCAG 2.0 A/AA website standards, which have also been adopted as the standard in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Here are some quick reference guidelines for WCAG 2.0. These are the standards to which your school must comply.

If you don’t comply with accessibility standards and OCR receives a complaint against your school, they will investigate. When this happens, most schools voluntarily enter into a resolution agreement with OCR to avoid a disability discrimination complaint, risk losing funds, or face a possible lawsuit. To avoid all of this, be proactive and get your school’s website compliant. 

Getting your school websites ADA compliant

There is good news and bad news. We’ll give you the bad news first. Getting your school’s website compliant usually isn’t quick or easy to implement if it wasn’t designed to be ADA compliant in the first place. Then, once you get it there, you’ll need to implement processes with whoever is creating or adding content to your website to keep it that way. Basically, everyone who touches your website needs to know what is required. All documents, images, videos, page content, and navigational structure that you add to your site must be compliant.

So, what is the good news? Besides the obvious benefit of not having OCR camped on your doorstep and the threat of a loss of funds, possible lawsuits, and bad press, there are some other benefits to consider.

  • Your website is available 24/7. The information you provide will be reaching everyone, regardless of ability or disability. Having information available in one format and at one location can also save your staff time, which translates to saving your school money—all while benefiting all of your shareholders.
  • A compliant website also meets with web development best practices, which means you may see better integration with newly developed technology, faster load times, quicker connections for people with low bandwidth, better cross-browser compatibility, search engine optimization, and easier access for mobile device users.
  • You are making your content and information available to everyone, regardless of a disability. Those with disabilities are estimated to be as high as 20% of the population. Disabilities can range from blindness and deafness to ADHD, color blindness, language barriers, dyslexia, memory impairments, autism, and arthritis.

Where to begin?

We’ll make this easy and provide you with some basic steps to begin the process of getting your website ADA compliant. To get a basic understanding, check out this blog post about School Website Accessibility Tips. In addition to a simplified description of the steps to get you started, it also describes some of the most common issues that are out of compliance.

Also, for additional information and resources, check out the links on this page for other useful references.

Website document remediation

One of the requirements for ADA compliance, and one that will affect all school staff who create documents posted on the school’s website (schedules, newsletters, rosters, menus, etc.), is that whether in Word, Google Docs, Excel spreadsheets, or PDFs, they must also be ADA compliant. This means your staff must learn how to create those documents accordingly. 

School Webmasters, one of ARSA’s sponsors, provides free accessibility training to all of their school clients, so if School Webmasters is your website provider, let them know you are ready for the training. If you are not a client, School Webmasters offers this online training for $249 per year, which includes as many staff as you want to include, with whatever training they need (available in PDFs or videos). You can track and receive a report of your staff training, which is a requirement for an OCR audit. If you have such a need, just contact School Webmasters at 888.750.4556 or sign-up at the Website Accessibility Training registration page. If you need site audit services, document remediation, or just an ADA compliant website, the folks at School Webmasters can help you as well.