Schools and universities have a responsibility to accommodate everyone. That means teaching the facts, the ones you can back up with sources. It also means encouraging empathy when kids and adults may not receive or practice it at home, and accommodating the curriculum for all.
This responsibility also applies to your website. You need to make sure that any person with a disability can access your information about events, curricula, and the application process. Especially as the number of compliance lawsuits rise against universities, you want to never see a day in court as a defendant. You can defend yourself adequately, if you proactively accommodate.
A significant percentage of your students will have disabilities. They need assistance with acquiring their degree, from a Bachelor’s to a Master’s or even a PhD. In the 2015-16 school year, 19.4 percent of students report having a disability while studying for their undergraduate degree. Beyond that, 11.9 percent of students that pursue postgraduate work report having a disability.
The government estimates that 19.9 million people attended college in the same year. We can calculate that over four hundred thousand students with disabilities will attend university.
Many renowned universities in the United States operate on an aura of exclusivity. While that strategy may work for building careers in politics and investment banking, that exclusivity can hurt students in the long run. You want to make sure that you’re not shutting out students who can contribute their minds to ongoing research or who can improve their lives.
Studies show that people who obtain a higher education degree can acquire higher-paying jobs and rise above their income bracket. You don’t want to barricade against these students because they require a screen reader or subtitles for audio.
How about for online? If you don’t accommodate for students and potential applicants, that means you miss out on bright, talented people. They may battle chronic pain or who need audio or visuals for their screen readers. If teachers require that students submit homework online or participate in online discussions,
More pragmatically, you need to accommodate to avoid seeing your potential students in court. Not only will that take a chunk of money out of tuition, alumni donations and matriculation fees but also it will tarnish your higher educational institution’s reputation. You would rather have your school in the news for historical accomplishments and beloved alumni.
In 2018 alone, one plaintiff filed suit against fifty universities for poor website ADA compliance. His name is Jason Camacho. Camacho is legally blind; to read website content, he has to use a screen reader. His suit rests on the grounds that the website design does not allow him to access the content easily, with barriers in the way.
Camacho has filed against big names such as the California Institute for the Arts, Cornell, and Oberlin. While none of the universities have commented, they have been facing accessibility issues for several decades. The courts are likely to side with Camaco as the plaintiff.
Obviously, you don’t want to be a university, community college, or trade school facing a suit. You would rather accommodate.
If you are a university or higher education institution, you will need our services. Site Compliance wants to help make your website reasonably accessible. We know how to help you comply within the tiers of the Web Content Access Guidelines, which are used in the courts, and other accessibility standards
Contact us today. Let us help you reach out to students with disabilities, so they can get their education.