The Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 continue to be frequent subjects of investigation by the United States Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights ("OCR"). The ADA and Section 504 require school districts to provide qualified individuals with disabilities equal access to their programs, services or activities, unless doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of the program, service or activity or would impose an undue burden. Significantly, OCR considers school district websites to be a service of the school district and, therefore, requires all websites to be accessible to individuals with disabilities. As such, individuals with disabilities, notably, those who may have limited vision, must be able to access the same content, functionality and ease of use of a school website unless the same information is available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week by another means.
Generally, OCR requires school districts to comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. These Guidelines require:
- Text be readable and understandable, using contrasting colors;
- Links to pages and other content be properly named;
- ALT tags be used for photos;
- Content and features be compatible with a mouse, keyboard, screen reader and other user tools;
- Audio transcription and closed captioning for videos be provided; and
- Websites state how individuals can obtain accessible information and services, for example, by providing a phone number and/or an email address.
We recommend that school districts direct their information technology staff to review WCAG 2.0, and develop and implement a plan to make all district websites accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Please contact any one of our school law attorneys if you have any questions about this update or any other school law issue.