Tag Archives: ADA/SECTION 504

Is your website accessible to visually impaired people?

The Office for Civil Rights conducted an investigation about accessibility issues in Silsbee ISD in 2014 and 2015.  Some of the complaints that sparked this investigation are of the usual variety when we hear the term “accessibility.” There were concerns about parking places, access to the playground, and gymnasium seating.  Nothing new there.  But the complaints also focused on 21st Century issues—website accessibility.

The complaint asserted that the district “uses fixed fonts and text sizes, uses low-contrast text, and uses clickable images that do not have verbal descriptors.”  After conducting its investigation, OCR’s “preliminary analysis identified 23 accessibility problems with the SISD’s website.”  This was enough for OCR to conclude that the website “does not provide individuals who utilize assistive technology an equal opportunity to participate in or benefit from the website that is afforded to other individuals who do not need to use assistive technology.” In response to these findings and conclusions, the district submitted a Resolution Agreement to fix the problems.

I have a hunch that OCR could find 23 or more accessibility problems with many district websites.  The standard that districts have to meet is a high one.  The expectation is that people with disabilities will be able to access information on your website with “substantially equivalent ease of use” as non-disabled students.  For example, making a teacher’s aide available to read for the visually impaired student is not sufficient since this means that the information would be accessible only when the aide is around, whereas the sighted student has access 24/7.

Someone in your district needs to get up to speed on this. The relevant law is Section 508 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act.  No—that’s not a typo. We mean Section 508—not 504.  Section 508 is all about accessibility standards for technology.  To learn more, try this website: https://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG20/quickref/ Or this one: http://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/communications-and-it/about-the-section-508-standards