Schools and districts utilize their websites to provide resources and information to students, parents, and the community. Unfortunately, they are not always accessible for people with disabilities. Over the last several years, disability community advocates and the U.S. Department of Education have escalated the expectations that all digital content on school websites must be accessible to people with disabilities.
Most websites can be made more accessible by making a few changes, for example by designing pages so visitors can make use of their browser and computer settings. But website accessibility is not just a question of page design or nice look and feel. It is a question of enabling any single visitor to find the relevant information they need and here are five critical reasons why you need to make your site accessible.
1 – It Is Ethically & Morally Right to Make Websites Inclusive
When a school or district website has inaccessible content, not all visitors to the site can equally receive the desired outcome of the content. Being inaccessible could be an issue for some parents to find valuable information about their children. Those with disabilities may feel that by not making the site accessible you are not respecting them – and they would be right!
2 – People With Disabilities Have a Voice & Are Not a Silent Minority
Before the Internet, critiques were primarily the job of journalists; now everyone’s a critic. Online review sites give everyone the power to write reviews that have a significant impact on community perceptions. Having a public relations issue because there is a notion that your school or district does not support individuals with disabilities, can be detrimental.
3 – Web Accessibility Will Increase Your Reach in Your Community
According to the CDC, 22 percent of adults in the United States have some type of disability. If you aren’t optimizing your site for accessibility, you could be missing one fifth of your target audience.
4 – Build Loyalty & Trust
If your competitor’s website is not accessible and yours is, guess which one will receive more visitor and repeat traffic? Remember, other schools are your competition. Those schools that are speaking to the 22 percent of the population who have a disability have accessible community engagement.
5 – The Office of Civil Rights Set Regulations for Schools to Follow
Being accessible is the law. The Office of Civil Rights is tasked with making education accessible for all students and school communities. It is imperative that you stay up-to-date on these laws and their regulations because when updates are made new compliance deadlines are set. These rules and regulations are critical and must be taken seriously to prevent your district from receiving a formal complaint.
Website accessibility means giving people with disabilities equal access to the web. It is about enabling every user to access content in whichever way they choose on your site. Now that you know some of the reasons why accessibility is critical, follow these guides and resources to begin making your website accessible to everybody.