What is Accessibility and What Does it Mean for Your School Website?

November 5, 2018

We live in a technology-driven world. Technology allows us to watch videos, get information from websites, and even fill out paperwork online. While many of us take these features for granted, doing things online can be a bit more tricky for those that have disabilities. Imagine trying to listen to a webinar when you’re hard of hearing, or think about how difficult it might be to access a school phone number for someone who can’t see a school’s contact information. 56.7 million people in America “have a physical or mental impairment that affects one or more major life activities, such as walking, bathing, dressing, eating, preparing meals, going outside the home or doing housework” according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It’s crucial that schools take this into consideration when designing their websites.


What is Accessibility?

When something is accessible, it means it’s easy for all persons to retrieve or access it. It’s important that any business follow guidelines from the Americans with Disabilities Act, or the ADA. The ADA “prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.”

For websites, it's the accepted standard to follow WCAG 2.1, or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, that give website creators a baseline as to how to make their content available to everyone. The WCAG can help you deliver content that is accessible and enjoyed by your whole community. From metadata to closed-captioning, Edlio offers a variety of techniques that you can use to make sure all parents and guardians can access important information on your school’s website.

How Can I Make My School Website Accessible?

Closed Captions & Transcripts

One of the simplest ways to make your school website ADA compliant is by adding closed captions to videos with audio as well as a transcript of the content discussed. While this may seem like a lengthy task, Artificial Intelligence (AI) now provides a variety of different tools to help automate this process.

When you upload a video to a CMS like Edlio’s, you have the option to automate closed captioning or edit the captions yourself! Those captions are then saved into a transcript, making it easy for those who are hearing impaired to receive pertinent narration and content from media on your school’s website. As an added bonus, this feature can also be incredibly helpful if you don’t have headphones or are in a crowded place where you can’t hear audio very well.

Alt Text

Alternative text, or alt text for short, is a description of an image for those who can’t see it. Alt text allows for those with vision impairments to get a sense of what images are present on a website by using a screen reader that reads the alt text out loud.

This may sound familiar if you’ve ever encountered a website where a picture won’t load properly and all that appears is a small blurb at the bottom of the empty space where the image should be describing what the image would’ve looked like. Edlio’s CMS takes alt text one step further with a feature that allows administrators to make alt text mandatory for all images their staff want to share on the school website. This means the employee or staffer won’t be allowed to post the image until they’ve added an appropriate description first.

Coded Websites

Another important accessibility feature that many people may take for granted is how a website is coded. A website that is coded with accessibility in mind is one that can easily be read by a screen reader. This is important for those who need to use an alternative device to access a website. All of Edlio’s websites are responsive to give all who access them the optimal viewing experience no matter what device they’re using.

Skip to Main Content

Another feature that can be useful for those who use a screen reader is the ability to skip to a website’s main content. This is a feature that lets visitors on screen readers use their keyboard to skip the navigation at the top of each page, making it easier for them to reach their desired information. It also allows visitors with visual impairments to avoid having to hear the entire menu every single time they load a new page which can making navigation much simpler.

Color Contrast Tools

Aesthetic design itself can also help assist those with disabilities. For those with light sensitivity or other vision impairments like color blindness, color contrasting tools can come in very handy. These help website designers make sure that colors contrast to the recommended standards that ensures important elements are prominent. Edlio uses a tool like this that helps its designers make sure all words contrast enough with the background. This allows for not only those with vision impairments to view all content, but these contrast levels are good for all visitors as well!

Taking all of these factors into consideration when creating your school’s website can be a bit daunting. Fortunately, school websites that are powered by Edlio take all ADA compliance guidelines into consideration for you, allowing all parents to be engaged. Want some additional help? Check out Edlio’s accessibility guide in the Edlio Help Center!