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Are Top School District Websites Inaccessible?

Feb 19, 2018

In the past few decades, especially since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, school districts have made great strides to welcome and accommodate students, teachers, and staff with disabilities. This includes both physical changes, such as lifts and ramps to help those with wheelchairs enter and exit buildings on campus, and institutional changes, such as the expansion of special education programs.

Although these improvements for accessibility are commendable, there’s still one area where progress remains slow: school websites. As technology becomes increasingly more important to the educational process, website accessibility is more important than ever to be sure no students are left behind.

There are over 6.6 million students in the U.S. who receive special education services—13 percent of all public school students. Website accessibility means being committed to removing barriers that inhibit the usability of a website for these students as well as for others in the community.

But, aren't school websites accessible already? Not according to the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. In fact, they have launched nearly 500 investigations into web accessibility cases involving school, university and district websites. These investigations have encompassed distance learning, web applications, and online educational organizations; citing violations with digital coursework, multimedia and library resources.

Are these issues worthy of investigation? The Bureau of Internet Accessibility (BoIA) was curious, so it launched its own research, analyzing the top school districts with over 150,000 students using its automated website scanning platform. Although automation can only detect up to 30% of actual accessibility issues, it does provide directional insight into the overall accessibility of a given website. Using this method, BoIA concluded that these sites do in fact, have extensive accessibility issues. 

The Los Angeles Unified School District scored highest in our research. They also have a visible accessibility statement on their homepage and a designated ADA Compliance Manager with the contact info listed - both great steps to provide an accessible digital experience for website visitors.

Across the set of schools reviewed, frequent issues included an inability to resize text and problems with keyboard-only website navigation. To see additional details - the results from the top school districts are available below.

School District

Website Analyzed

Summary Report

Los Angeles County

Clark County

Hillsborough County

Fairfax County

Honolulu County

Chicago Public Schools

Orange County

Harris County

The importance of website accessibility for schools and school districts can’t be overstated. Schools must work to make their websites accessible in order to fulfill their mission of providing a quality education without barriers to all students.

Check your school district websites here:

Use our free Website Accessibility Checker to scan your site for ADA and WCAG compliance.

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