US Education Department reaches agreement with 11 education institutions to generate accessible websites

The US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) reached settlements with education organizations in seven states and one territory to ensure website accessibility for persons with disabilities. After receiving complaints related to the inaccessibility of their websites, a settlement was reached pointing to the voluntary resolution of the reported concerns.

These agreements are based on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 related to online services and programs. Some of the institutions involved in the process are the Guam Department of Education, Montana School for the Deaf and Blind, The Davidson Academy of Nevada and the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, among others.

According to Catherin E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights, as more schools and school districts turn to the internet as a valuable resource to share information with the audiences, it is necessary that they make sure that their online services and activities are accessible for persons with disabilities.

Some of the main problems that were presented in these websites were: the lack of “alt tags” to describe images for blind and low-vision users,  content not available without a mouse, inaccessible color combinations and lack of captions in videos for people with hearing impairments. As a response, the 11 education institutions committed to: ensure persons with disabilities have equal opportunities to access their online services, generate immediate and periodic audits of its functionalities, adopt policies and procedures to ensure new accessible features, develop a corrective action plan to remove online barriers and post a notice to tell persons with disabilities how to request online information that is currently inaccessible.

ITU has developed a model web accessibility policy which is included in the ITU-G3ict Model ICT Accessibility Policy Report available in the 6 official ITU languages and accessible e-book formats. Access the Model ICT Accessibility Policy Report here.

Additional Sources: GAATES