With school web sites becoming the primary resource for students and their parents to get information about in-school activities, advocates for the disabled are starting to pressure schools to ensure that all students have equal access. This is a legal obligation, based on the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, say experts in education law.
Here are some tips for improving school web site accessibility for the disabled:
- Visually disabled. Text readers are essential for enabling the visually impaired to hear the text that is on web sites. Superior text readers also describe the charts and graphics that help make the web such a visually appealing source of information.
- Hearing impaired. Audio is an important part of many educational and school web sites, especially for sites that post student projects online. Many new audio software packages provide the capability to print out (on paper or on the screen) what is being said. Providing close-captioning to accompany streaming videos of school board meetings will improve access for hearing-impaired parents.
- Overall. It’s important to make surfing a web site as easy as possible, as the disabled often are not able to manipulate keyboards and computer mice as quickly as others. Critical information, such as a school closing due to inclement weather, should be posted on the school’s or district’s home page, if possible.