7 Steps to Making Your School’s Website Accessible to All
With districts around the country relying on their websites to convey essential information to their communities, accessibility is more important than ever.
few years ago, an evolution in K–12 websites took shape, with
accessibility becoming a priority. Driven by an influx of Office of
Civil Rights (OCR) complaints, many districts took the time to review
their websites with a focus on how important information was being
distributed online—and how accessible that information was to all
the last few months, as COVID-19 has led to nationwide school
closures, websites have become an essential way for schools to
communicate rapidly changing information to parents, staff and the
community. Accessibility is now much more than a compliance issue: All visitors need access to information they’re relying on to
support and protect their families. These seven steps will help
schools and districts make their websites accessible to all.
your site for accessibility.
are many online tools and services that review your website for
accessibility issues. The option a lot of our clients start with is a
tool by WebAIM called WAVE.
It’s an extension you add to your Chrome or Firefox browser that
looks for errors based on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
(WCAG). We suggest that IT managers and webmasters start by analyzing
the homepage to see what pops up. Common errors we see are color
contrast, font size, and missing alt text, but WAVE also finds and
recommends code updates to work better with screen readers and other
a partner or partners.
on the resources you have in place, your IT department may be able to
work with your website partner to address many accessibility errors.
If you feel you need more support, compare bids from a couple of ADA
specialists. Prices can vary wildly, so make sure training and
ongoing support are included.
seen a large number of districts opt for more dedicated accessibility
support like WebAIM,
Those who have received complaints from OCR usually go with one of
these partners to reply quickly and get extra training for their
you have a list of errors, either through a full scan of your site by
an accessibility solution or a self-assessment by scanning pages with
WAVE, bring in your communications team members to discuss next
steps. The big question here is whether to undertake a complete
redesign or just fix errors. Your website partner will likely have
plans prepared for K–12 websites, including updating your design
and re-coding. Often a redesign that focuses on accessibility takes
care of the bulk of errors.
your content organized, or do you see duplicate content in various
parts of the site? Another common error we see on K–12 websites is
relying on uploaded PDFs and document scans. WCAG requires all
content on your website to be accessible, and if the PDF was not
created and exported with accessibility in mind, your visitors may
not be able to access what is in the document. We encourage districts
to add the text directly to a page on the website. Also, review your
website menu. Is it too big and disorganized? Again, your website
provider can help with tips for serving today’s website
visitors—all of them.
add a Website Accessibility Policy to your site, with details on who
to contact for issues accessing content on your website. Make sure
that link is on all pages. (Usually, the footer is the best option.)
everyone who contributes to the website on the guidelines that apply
to content creators.
who has permission to post to your site should know how to write alt
text, and how to stay with high-contrast colors, for example. They
should also learn a bit about why this is important, to underline the
challenges you may inadvertently create for some visitors by not
following a few simple steps.
your website regularly to ensure new errors are not popping up.
your website platform has built-in tools, make sure you have
activated them for your site. Also, some accessibility solutions like
AudioEye give visitors more control over how they interact with your
website, taking some of the ownership of accessibility off the
an internal accessibility manager.
right person to be your school or district’s accessibility manager
doesn't necessarily need to know how to address the technical issues.
Select a person who knows your community and can spearhead an
accessibility initiative for your website.
the uncertainty that families are dealing with these days, a website
that connects with everyone in the community is not just an
operational necessity—it can be an oasis of certainty for those who
need it most.