Monday, November 14, 2016

Is Your Website Accessible?

Mentioned in a previous post, the U. S. Dept of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in Region X, cited 11 educational organizations in seven states in their region (Western US and Pacific Islands) for simple accessibility problems with their websites.

It appears that OCR may have only looked at the front page, often a Special Needs information page, and something else.  In one case, the Assistive Technology page.  I'm guessing they did the analysis in a very simple way.  Used one of the existing Website accessibility checkers.

You can check your favorite educational institution's website.  It's easy.  I generally use two sites because they report a little differently.  Note that with these you can only check URLs that do not require password access.

Go to each of these and enter the URL of the page you want to check.

Each will generate a report.  (Select WCAG 2.0 AA for CynthiaSays -- that's the standard DoJ and OCR use.)  

The reports reflect differences in how the two sites do the analysis so it's nice to get the two.  Here are the two reports on the same public school district website.  

Looks like WAVE's summary shows 6 errors. I'd speculate that OCR would cite this district.  And one of the issues for this site is lack of Alt Tags.  Which is what OCR cited on each of those 11 non-complaint websites.  

OCR uses it's legal authority to enforce both Section 504 and Title II of the ADA in each letter.

The school district site I used is my local district, and I've told the district administrators about the problems with the website -- and sent them reports at least 3 times over the past 2 years.  Once before the new site was up, and I had hoped they'd use the info I provided to deal with their web contractor.  They didn't.  Most recently, I contacted the district's Section 504 Coordinator with the information and volunteered to provide some assistance.  I didn't get a response.

I see two different ways of proceeding.  I could file a complaint with the regional OCR office (not Region X), but that will take time for OCR to investigate the complaint depending on how busy they are.   What I plan to do, is make an appearance at an upcoming Board meeting and use my 3 minutes of public comment to raise the issue. I'll probably print out and give them copies of this post.  I'll report on this in a future post.