Website accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the web equally. You have probably heard a lot of buzz recently about ADA compliance relating to websites. Public schools are required to comply with ADA guidelines due to federal and state funding. Many private schools are asking if they are also required to comply.
What the ADA Mandates
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 and amended in 2008. It guarantees equal opportunity to people with disabilities regarding employment, transportation, state and local government services, public facilities and accommodations, and other areas both within the public and private sector. ‘Places of education’ are listed as one of the categories of a place of public accommodation. Therefore, private schools are required to comply.
Making your website ADA accessible is the law and it is also a matter of doing the right thing. What if you were inadvertently making information inaccessible to a student or parent with a disability? According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 13% of students receive special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. In the general population, the number of individuals with a disability is 1 in 5. That is over 1 billion people. We cannot forget about them as we're designing our website. Accessibility involves a wide range of disabilities including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, language, learning and neurological disabilities. Disabilities may also be situational, temporary or permanent.
If you can provide a better experience for someone with a disability, making your website accessible is worth the effort. Your website is the main form of communication for your school so that information needs to be accessible to all users. Click here.
What the WCAG Recommend
WCAG 2.0 is the internationally recognized standard for web content created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) which is a community of educational institutions, universities and governmental agencies that develops open standards for the internet.
WCAG 2.0 consists of 12 guidelines that are organized under 4 principles based on user experience.
As you can see, the way your website is coded and the design of your website are important factors of being ADA accessible but the way you add your content is equally important. Read more about website accessibility.