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Accessibility.Blog

BoIA Devotes $100k to Help School Districts with Accessibility

December 21, 2017 10:25:18 AM EST

Educational institutions at all levels are facing escalating scrutiny by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR). In recent years, the OCR has been increasing the number of demand letters it sends to school districts and academic institutions across the country regarding gaps in online accessibility.

School districts should take the increased number of complaints as a sign that the OCR is increasingly committed to enforcing the requirements of website accessibility for educational institutions, as outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

It’s no longer a question of “if” — it’s a question of “when” your business will be investigated.

To help schools navigate these regulations and to improve the overall accessibility of educational markets for impaired individuals, the Bureau of Internet Accessibility (BoIA) is providing in-kind donations of $100,000 in detailed electronic scans of their website (more comprehensive than the free scans offered on the website) and consultation to interpret results and help formulate a remediation strategy for qualified educational institutions.

Your school’s website might appear to be accessible to the majority of your students and staff, but individuals with vision, hearing, other physical, or learning disabilities might still have difficulty navigating your school’s website. If you forego taking the proper steps to make your website fully compliant with the ADA, you’re disregarding and shutting the door on a significant portion of school community. With an estimated 20% of the U.S. population having some sort of disability, school administrators need to act fast to understand the essentials of web accessibility and bring their websites into compliance with the appropriate standards.

Whether you’re facing threats of legal action or you simply want to be proactive, taking steps toward accessibility and assessing ADA requirements is both the right thing and the legal thing to do.

One of the largest challenges is knowing where to start and coming up with an affordable and effective plan that incorporates all digital information and training for the appropriate personnel. Using stopgap measures isn’t a viable option when it comes to a true solution for website accessibility. Instead, you need to adopt a strategic approach by carefully examining your website’s content, continuously monitoring for compliance with the correct tools and technologies, and keeping yourself up to date on the knowledge and resources you need. Once your team is familiar with the standards that need to be met, and they understand the importance of maintaining compliance, creating a customized implementation plan will protect your school by resolving web accessibility issues before they become a problem. BoIA’s services will serve as an invaluable foundation for each of those steps.

“Making the web more inclusive for everyone begins by keeping accessibility in mind,” says Mark Shapiro, president of BoIA. “Organizations are increasingly being pressured to comply with ADA regulations. Achieving and maintaining compliance isn’t just an altruistic endeavor, it’s the law.” Shapiro continues, “We’re optimistic that by donating free automated assessments and consulting to help educational institutions that they will be able to get in front of the OCR and make their websites more accessible to those in the community living with disabilities.”

This offer is open to all school district in the United States. Visit the link below to request assistance for your school district: https://www.boia.org/free-website-accessibility-assessment-for-schools-and-school-districts

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