Remember when you had an HOA? Or maybe you have one now. You can’t live with them, and can’t live without them right? Well that’s how we want you to look at ADA compliance for school websites.
Photo from Blue Fountain
More regulations are never fun, and now, schools are required to implement one more federal mandate, and today, we’re going to try and show you how to do this without much hassle.
Besides, you don’t want to get an accessibility audit, or legal fees or anything like that right? So, let’s break down how to become ADA compliant and not lose tons of sleep about it.
Is Your Website Accessible to Everyone?
- You may not know, but by adhering to best practices in web standards you also get:
- Better site functionality and faster page loading.
- SEO value
- First access to new technologies as they come online
- Pride of knowing both disabled and non-disabled crowds can expect the same experience on your web properties.
- You can also rest easy knowing that the Office of Civil Rights at the DOE will not slap with you with fines or withhold funding.
- Doing the right thing counts. You’ll know that you’re serving an entire community with valuable resources they need in their lives.
Let’s Get Started
First you’ll want to audit your website state to see where it stands in ADA compliance. Keyboard testing, screen reader testing and user testing are all important in this audit. You can also use a tool called WAVE to test each page on your site. As you test each page, write down each issue in detail so you’ll know how to fix it.
It’s easiest to start with the errors and fix them one by one. This may include adding alternative texts, or color contrast corrections for visually impaired. Make sure that you assign actions based on the area of expertise on your team. You may need a developer to accomplish these items.
Make sure to review any “warning” items that you get during your audit as well. These might involve manually checking for duplicate or redundant links and accessibility to documents.
You’ll also need to add an accessibility page to your website. This is important for everyone to see that you are not only compliant but ahead of the game. We think the best place for this is a link in the footer of the website. The page should include a form to complete that lets users describe what information they need help with. You also should include your phone number on this page.
You’re also required to provide accessibility training to everyone that makes website updates or writes content on the website.
You also need to create a consistent process where the website gets checked for accessibility and is compliant, both manually and with software. This includes the website pages themselves, any content on the site and applies to anyone who creates content or touches the website updates.
Now we know website accessibility isn’t the most fun thing to do, but if you’re a school, it’s a great way that you can dig into the site, find out what needs to be updated and at the same time, provide a ton of value through one of your school’s biggest resources, the website.
Bonnie is the founder of School Webmasters and has been helping schools improve their digital presence for over 14 years. She’s managed over 700 schools and loves sharing what she knows about the web.