Accessibility is no longer an option for your website—it is a requirement by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) that people with disabilities have the same access to online information as other students.
“As schools, school districts, states, and territories turn to the internet as a way to provide relevant and up-to-date information to their audiences in a cost-effective manner, they must make sure they are not inadvertently excluding people with disabilities from their online programs, services, and activities,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights, in a recent press release.
An audit of your existing website will identify where improvements should be made to keep you compliant, but accessibility concerns run much deeper than your website. In fact, accessibility should be a deciding factor when choosing a web content management system (CMS).
If a CMS purchase is in your future, consider these factors:
- Will the templates be compliant for people with disabilities?
- Does the CMS allow for centralized management, which makes the code consistent throughout your site and prone to fewer issues?
- Will updates and new releases be documented and reliable?
- Does the CMS provider have accessibility experts that you can contact should problems arise?
- Does the CMS have an active user community that has the same accessibility concerns as your institution?
- Does the CMS have accessibility checks that allow you to require content contributors to ensure accessible content?
- Will there be technical support and training to guide you through the maze of accessibility issues and other concerns?
- If considering an open source system, will your contributors be able to change the code, making it possible for your accessibility framework to disappear?
- Is the underlying code for the CMS overly complicated, making it difficult to make changes (especially if it is an open source system)?
- Will the CMS be automatically updated? If not, will you be required to re-implement accessibility fixes with each manual update?
- Does the CMS provider have reliable customer service?
Curious to see where your site stands? Request a free website accessibility check from our knowledgeable CMS experts.