How to Get Started with ADA Compliance

digital media, website

Laptop with accessible keyboard

Getting started on your school’s ADA compliance can seem like a big, daunting task, and if no one in the immediate community is calling attention to it, it may be difficult to prioritize. 

If your school or district website is not accessible, you’re alienating visitors, families, employees, community members and potential families and staff.

But there are a few key reasons not to sleep on this. First and foremost, it’s the law. Over the years, we’ve seen many public schools and districts come under fire for not having their information readily accessible to everyone. It can also help with SEO, and in some cases, individuals who do not utilize assistive technology may still see and appreciate the lengths that your school has gone to accommodate everyone. 

Making your school’s online presence doesn’t necessarily require a complete overhaul of the public website, parent portal, and social media accounts. Start your ADA compliance journey by implementing these five key tactics, and you’ll be in the habit of 100% compliance in no time.

  1. Remove PDFs from your website. Not only is it a huge hassle to download, edit, then re-upload a PDF to change a policy or correct a typo, once a parent downloads or prints it, but they will also have to be notified of the update. Furthermore, opening a PDF navigates the user away from your website, making it impossible to have resources all available together in the same tab and at-a-glance.

    PDFs are also not mobile-responsive. Keeping text and information in tabs, accordions or, sub-pages on your sites is a win-win; not only will your pages look great on a desktop, tablet, or smartphone, but the same tactic also helps screen readers function. 
  1. Stop using “Click Here.” If I could wave a magic wand and correct one of the biggest mistakes schools across the country make, it would be to remove the phrase “Click Here.” First, if you have a long list of things to “Click Here,” it becomes difficult for the user to differentiate which is which. Not only that, but it is ineffective for screen readers. According to UC Berkeley, using more descriptive language in your links can improve SEO.
  1. Add alternative text to your images. This is perhaps one of the more time-consuming, especially if there is a whole gallery to upload. But start with alternative text, or alt text, in email campaigns and blog posts to help users understand if an image is descriptive or informative. If you’re sending an infographic, for example, without alternative text and the image isn’t visible either because an email client blocks it, slow internet speed, or because a screen reader is utilized, the message will not be received. 
  1. All videos need to have captions. Video captions are important for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, but also crucial to a general audience. In 2019, studies showed that 69% of consumers watched videos on silent. Imagine spending a significant percent of your marketing budget on a slick, professional video, but then no one gets the message because the video has no captions? Start with any number of captioning resources or lean into your branding by customizing the look and feel of your captions.
  1. Include image descriptions on Instagram and Facebook. Both platforms offer places to include “official” alternative text, but that method requires clicking through two additional steps. Save time and put an image description in the caption either within a square bracket or using the hashtag #ImageDescription to make your posts stand out even further. This way, users discovering your school on either of these platforms will get the message that you care!

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg to help get started on Accessibility. Our partners at Holdsworth Communications have gathered an even more inclusive list.

If you’d like to do a quick sweep of your website, download our free ADA Accessibility Cheat Sheet here.

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