How California School Districts Can Achieve ADA Website Compliance (In 4 Simple Steps)
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If you’ve been researching information about your school’s website compliance for any period of time, you’ve probably come across a few articles that tell you possible troubles you’ll face if your website is not compliant but don’t explain exactly what issues need to be remediated.
In this article we’ll be breaking down some of the most common website compliant issues and why the conventional ADA compliance plugins are not a reliable solution to ensuring the complete compliance of your school’s website.
Side note: Want to know exactly how many errors your school’s website currently has? Take our free accessibility audit to get a birds-eye view of the issues or reach out to us and schedule a free consultation to have a certified website specialist conduct a manual audit of your school’s website.
Like we mentioned above, there are dozens of accessibility errors that your school’s website could have and the only way to know what all of them are is to have an accessibility professional conduct a manual audit, but there are a few issues that are most commonly seen amongst non-compliant websites:
Screen readers are used as an assistive technology to render images and text into speech that is read aloud for those who have visual impairments or are blind. They utilize a variety of keyboard commands to execute different tasks including reading menu links and different documents.
Why screen readers are important for school websites: Screen readers are able to make important school documents such as class schedules, student report cards, and curriculum catalogs accessible by reading aloud the contents of those materials.
You have the option of using both open or closed captions on all of your website’s videos. The main difference is that open captions are visible wherever the video is shown and can’t be turned off whereas closed captions are displayed over the picture.
Why closed captions are important for school websites: There are plenty of school websites that put out school updates in the form of videos. All videos on your website should be accessible to visitors that have hearing disabilities through captions so they have the ability to understand the context of videos and stay current with school updates.
For users with motor skill disabilities, it’s imperative that your school’s website provides full functionality via the use of a keyboard only. The most common way users navigate a website using a keyboard is by using the Tab key and with that, they should be able to skip to sections of the website and move around the webpage in a logical way.
Why keyboard navigation is important for school websites: You may have visitors to the website that have difficulty using a mouse and now with schools offering virtual learning, navigation around the website is more important than ever for students and parents who need to access homework and other assignments for their children.
Since schools have turned to utilize virtual learning environments due to the rise of COVID, it’s a must that your school’s website follow the web content accessibility guidelines and is accessible to everyone from human resources to parents and students. There are five steps you should take to ensure your school’s website compliance:
The first step you should take is to reach out to an accessibility professional so they can take a look at your school’s website and find accessibility errors that you have and let you know what those issues are and give you a clear path to remediating them.
In addition, you could also get a free accessibility audit to get an overview of the issues and get clear instructions on exactly what you need to do in order to quickly achieve website compliance.
This can be one of the most difficult parts of the process and can put your website at risk if you’re not careful. When choosing an accessibility partner you should consider the following:
We’ve found that the best way to check for website accessibility errors is to use a combination of automated and manual accessibility testing. The automated audit gives a good overview of the issues that need to be addressed while the manual audit does a deep dive and catches errors that an automated audit wouldn’t catch alone.
Making sure to choose a company that has these attributes will give you the best chance of partnering with an organization that will effectively remediate issues and ensures website accessibility for every visitor of your website regardless of disability.
Once all website issues have been remediated your partner company should be able to offer you an inspection verification badge that shows every visitor that your website abides by WCAG 2.1 Level AA compliance.
Some companies may also offer a custom accessibility statement that shows that your website is in the process of remediation.
By law, you must recertify your website every two years in order to keep your website updated with accessibility standards and continuously protected from litigation. It’s always best practice to continuously have your website accessible with every change, this is especially true with school websites as they’re continuously being updated with new information regarding parents and students.
Using website accessibility tools are usually the first option that companies resort to because they claim to resolve all accessibility errors and keep your website compliant with automated daily automated scans but the problem with automated scans is that they only capture up to 30% of all accessibility issues and because automated tools can’t apply human subjectivity to auditing they have a much higher chance of producing false positives.
In 2020, more than 250 lawsuits were filed against companies using widgets and overlays as their accessibility solution. This is because widgets and overlays do not fix accessibility issues on a code level meaning, the changes that they make “layers” over your website instead of being addressed in the foundation of your website directly. This results in the possibility of users still not being able to access your site as needed.
Like we mentioned above, making sure you comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and ensure full accessibility over your school’s website requires partnering with the right accessibility professionals. Our company – ADA Compliance Pros, specializes in website compliance for private and public schools and we have a proven track record of helping organizations achieve website compliance through our air-tight process. Our process includes:
If you’ve made it this far, you now know the exact steps you should take to ensure your school’s website accessibility. Finding a reliable accessibility partner is the foundation of having a properly accessible website that provides an equal opportunity for students, teachers, and staff with disabilities.
Under federal law, California state requires that webmasters ADA Compliance Pros has worked with dozens of businesses including schools and colleges on website accessibility and we know what it takes for a website to fully achieve compliance.
If you’d like to know how many errors your school website has, take our free accessibility audit and get a quick overview of your violations or reach out to us for a free consultation and have an accessibility professional look over your website and put you on the right path to remediation.