• At the start of another school year, it’s the perfect time to examine the reasons why making websites accessible is so important for education.

    Section 508
    ADA Compliance
    IT Accessibility

    All of these terms refer to creating websites that are readable and understandable  to everyone.  Sometimes this can be something as simple as making sure text is readable, not using YELLOW against white, but there are also some more detailed things we need to do to ensure our sites are accessible to those with disabilities.    This is not always obvious - that a site isn't readable by everyone.  Many use  including those using assistive technology, or just those who have low vision capability. 

    Our audience - parents, students and the general public.  We want them to know about our programs, exciting things we are doing, curriculum, etc.

    Why we need to create accessible websites

    Having ADA accessibile websites ensures that everyone has equal use of websites and web content. The internet’s impact on our daily lives has grown exponentially, impacting everything from light entertainment to serious educational initiatives. This means that providing equal educational opportunities to students, parents and the public requires a strong commitment to web accessibility.

    Using the internet is a constant for most of us, and it's easy to forget that it's not the same easy experience for everyone. That's why we need to pay attention to the website content we are creating -  so that everyone can read our content and receive important information they need about the AACPS school system.

    Web accessibility also benefits parents, students with disabilities - by creating content which is simpler, easy to read and understand,  who want to be engaged in their children’s education. They may use the internet to view grades, download class resources, find teachers’ and administrators’ contact information, and more. 

     

    Designing and writing for a wide audience

    Edu-Speak, acronyms,

     

    People with vision, hearing, motor, and cognitive disabilities may all experience unique challenges when using a computer and accessing the internet.

     

    Important that we design our website to be accessible for everyone. Not a new concept, but there is more awareness, especially as many tools and platforms have been created that account for ADA requirements.

    Accessibility @ AACPS

    Our main blackboard platform is theoretically, ADA compliant and designed to be so.  That mean the framework, menus, etc, is built a certain way so that it doesn't "get in the way" of screen readers and that the information is not scrambled.  However, the content that is placed on website isn't always ADA compliant, or readable by assistive technology. At this point, we have So this means that while by using a platform that is designed to address this issue, we need to keep vigilant in the content that is being placed on the site.

     

     

    Examples

     

    Alt Text - takes time

    GOOD  - smiling student

    BETTER - Smiling middle schooler interacting with classmates 

    BEST - 


     


    Putting up graphics that contain text without typing it out  -

    EXAMPLE - this should say the words on the graphic as well as a description of the graphic - in the BACKGROUND


    Making PDF files accessible - show example to change


    Simple items like colors - using yellow or light blue on a white background is not compliant- making sure there is contrast.  That's why by and large, text on the internet is t's black print, white background.

    dddddd or dddddd


    using tiny font - even though our site is responsive and text will resize, it's better to use standard font and not change the text size - large text will resize to too large and tiny  text isn't readable at 1st glance.

    Things like Menus - drop down - not important on our site b/c you don't have the capability to do, but you can create an unpleasant experience for those using assistive tech.


    Basically, the more text you include on a site, the better it is for those who are using screen readers.  Graphics need to be captioned or alt text added.  On blackboard site, this can easily be done.....


    Video captioning - You tube does it

    The way the question is written seems to indicate a confusion about the difference between open captions and closed captions.

    In a typical YouTube video, to get automated captions (which rely on speech recognition), you have to click on CC. This is also technically ‘closed’ caption…you don’t see captions unless you activate that feature.

    With open captions, captions will appear automatically, because they have been intentionally incorporated in the video. This is true for most websites, and usually it’s not necessary to click on CC. But in some YouTube videos, if you want to see captions, you have to click on CC. I’m not sure why YouTube is different from other websites in that regard. Probably difference in programming.

    With YouTube, you can see the difference in quality between automated captions and inserted captions. You’ll know which is which after a while.

    A typical video with no CC button (you’ll observe that you cannot get captions at all)

     

    STEPS WE ARE TAKING

    • Educate all whom we train -  we give guidance to the contributors we sign up on our website system
    • Monitor school sites - encourage them to come under our blackboard umbrella
    • Preparing a website on accessibility that goes over these salient points
    • Offer training on this subject only
    • Scan our website for issues and let contributors know to make corrections
    • Websites who are not compliant - we change
    • Get documentation from outside vendors giving us assurance that their sites are accessible and requiring them to demonstrate this.