Website accessibility remediation: a phrase that can seem long, complicated and daunting; like something that’s muttered among a group of highly skilled Google employees or video game pros. Fortunately, it’s a string of big words that actually conveys a simple concept: the process of ensuring everyone, regardless of ability, can access your website.
Remediation is just a fancy word for fixing. Technically it means “the action of remedying something.” So, website accessibility remediation is the practice of remedying, or fixing, your website’s accessibility.
This might conjure up images of poor web connection or a lack of mobile interface, but that’s not what this phrase refers to. Specifically, most websites need to be “remedied” in order to be more accessible for people with disabilities. Like any federally funded entity, public school websites are expected to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a law that “prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life.”
While most public schools have good intentions and want to be available to all students, many are inadvertently shutting out students with disabilities and/or the parents of those students because of inaccessible websites. This is rarely an intentional exclusion of people with disabilities, but it is a violation of the law nonetheless.
Website accessibility remediation has become a hot topic in the web support world lately. There has been a recent uptick in investigations and complaints regarding school websites by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). If your school has received a complaint like this, it’s often because the website isn’t accessible to people with disabilities.
There are a variety of ways your site can fail to meet accessibility standards. WCAG 2.1, a technical standard, outlines twelve accessibility guidelines that can help websites protect themselves from OCR complaints.
When talking about website accessibility remediation, professionals will regularly reference Section 508. This refers to several amendments made in 1998 to the 1972 Rehabilitation Act.
The original Rehabilitation Act was enacted to prevent disability discrimination at a federal level. But, in the 70s, digital content wasn’t a thing, so no one was considering how access to digital information could be discriminatory. Thus, in 1998, Section 508 was added to ensure that any institution (schools included) that receives federal funding provides accessible online content for people of all abilities.
Website accessibility and private schools
While public schools are legally required to make their website accessible, all schools (private, charter and otherwise) have a vested interest in making their digital content available to students of all ability levels.
Schools, regardless of public or private designation, are egalitarian, community institutions that should represent the diversity of their population. If students with disabilities can’t access a school’s digital content, it’s less likely that they will be engaged in the school community or drawn to join that school, which is ultimately a loss for everyone. Thus, website accessibility remediation is not relegated to the public school realm. It’s an issue for all schools.
Help is Here: Resources
If your school has been subject to an OCR complaint, or if you’re trying to avoid that outcome and remain accessible to students of all ability levels, there are a variety of resources available to help you achieve that goal.
SchoolNow launched a School Website Accessibility Education Center specifically for this purpose. This wealth of resources is completely free to access and offers videos, infographics and templates to help you transform your site into a perfect model of ADA compliance. This includes guides for auditing your school website’s accessibility, creating an accessibility policy and how to respond to OCR complaints.
While the meaning of website accessibility remediation isn’t too hard to comprehend, achieving that goal for your school can be a little more complicated. Luckily, you have plenty of support available to help you build a fully accessible website for your school.
About the author
As co-founder of SchoolNow, Steve believes behind every great school is great communication. He's on a mission to continue to simplify communications for school administrators and help them boost engagement with parents and the entire school community.