Could it be that your college is potentially breaking the law? Administrators at institutions of higher learning seldom consider how their websites impact their legal situation. There’s a good chance that your organization’s site doesn’t meet all the requirements that it should.
At SiteCompliance, we’re often asked for the big reasons why people need to ensure that they’re higher education sites are compliant. Take a look at the following and ask yourself whether your online resources meet all the accessibility goals that they should.
If colleges and universities were purely private entities, then they might not need to worry about what guidelines their sites met. However, a majority of them accept public money. Once you start to accept money from a local, state or federal agency you have to begin playing by their rules. That means you’ll be required to meet certain minimum accessibility requirements. In most cases, these are somewhat poorly defined, but the rules spelled out in Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 is a good starting point in an overwhelming majority of situations.
Some local authorities might have considerably looser rules than these, but it’s still a good idea to adhere to them because of the possibility of a lawsuit.
Several high profile cases have been levied against universities because they didn’t meet certain accessibility guidelines. While prosecutors seldom rest their entire case on the issue of website usage, this has been brought up multiple times. Considering that colleges normally work on endowments and various types of donations, a lawsuit can be absolutely devastating. It can even reduce the chances of getting contributions in the future. A little time spent making your site accessible can avoid all of these problems outright.
Accessibility is so important because those students who rely on these accommodations won’t be able to use your online resources otherwise. By providing them with the accessibility features that they need, you’re showing the world that you care about the needs of every single member of the student body and faculty at your school.
From a moral standpoint, it’s also imperative that you offer this kind of support in order to provide an equal level of service to everyone enrolled at your institution regardless of any other factors.
Countless accessibility guidelines focus on stripping out unnecessary use of sound, graphical animations, and videos. When this kind of material is removed, sites start to load faster. This is especially important for those who use low powered portable computers or mobile devices. Since they might not have the RAM and CPU resources need to load more sophisticated designs, students might eventually get frustrated. Having an accessible version of your page gives them a chance to save some time.
There’s always the chance that national lawmakers might further amend the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other landmark pieces of legislation. If this were to happen, then many colleges would have to scramble in order to ensure compliance with the new rules. By taking care of this now, you’re making sure that your organization won’t fall into any hot water in the future.
Both private and public institutions hold off auditing their sites, however, because the task seems so momentous. If that’s an issue, then don’t delay any longer. Contact us online at your earliest possible convenience and learn more about how an automated tool can take all of the sting out of this otherwise daunting task.