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Inaccessible School Materials and Parents with Disabilities: What's the impact?

Apr 26, 2019

Much has been written and discussed about the accessibility of digital materials used in education, and as the concepts of web accessibility become more-commonly understood and applied, there should be more movement in that space in the not-so-distant future. Most people understand why it's critical for a student's success that they have access to the information and materials they need when they need them.

What happens, though, when it isn't the student that faces accessibility barriers, but the parent or parents?

It's probably safe to say that most parents help their children with their homework or study for exams, at least from time to time, and many parents enjoy doing so. It's also safe to say that school materials are increasingly moving digital, with laptops and tablets replacing textbooks and pen-and-paper. There are reasons this makes sense and there are benefits.

There's also an inherent challenge: if online or digital materials aren't made in a way that is accessible to people with disabilities, including those who use assistive technology like screen readers, then the digital revolution has served in that instance to advance the progress of some while excluding others.

In direct response to the question being asked, if it is the parent who cannot access the material, unnecessary limitations and obstacles are introduced, and one can begin to speculate about the impact that could have on both parent and student. Yes, people find ways to do what they need to do. Yes, children are surprisingly resilient. Yes, families are amazingly resourceful at times. But no, this is not a necessary evil of going digital — the technology exists to make websites, apps, e-books, PDFs, and other tools accessible to everyone, and so it's time to make that happen.

Related: Department of Education Updates Complaints Process, Reopens Hundreds of Web Accessibility Complaints

The time for accessibility is now

People deserve access to the information they need or want, information some people can access any time, when they need or want it. Long complaints processes, lawsuits, and other methods of trying to change the inaccessibility of tools and resources don't help somebody who needs to do or read something right now. You don't need to wait until you've received a demand letter to take action. We offer education accessibility audits and ongoing support, and we have a 100% acceptance rate from the OCR as an approved third-party auditor. Or, get started with a free and confidential website accessibility scan.

We look forward to helping you achieve, maintain, and prove digital compliance.

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