Civil Rights Accessibility Complaint

 In Articles, Education, PDF Accessibility

Be Concerned, But Don’t Panic

Did you receive a letter from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) notifying you that your website violates federal web accessibility standards? Were certain pages on your website are not accessible to persons with disabilities?

If so, you are not alone.  Gavel on a keyboardMaybe you haven’t yet received a notification from the OCR to put a plan into action, but don’t be surprised if it happens.

Perhaps you can take some comfort in knowing that other school districts nationwide are also being notified by the OCR that their websites are not compliant with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which prohibits discrimination based on disability in any program or activity operated by recipients of federal funds. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination based on disability by public entities, regardless of whether they receive federal financial assistance.  Fortunately, there are solutions to help you become accessible.

Your Digital Documents May Be the Root of Your Problem

Maybe you were surprised to receive an accessibility complaint — surprised that your website had accessibility issues. But, think for a moment. What about the PDFs on your site? Are they accessible? If not, they need to be.  Every part of your digital content must be accessible to persons with disabilities, including your PDF documents. So, what do you do?

The OCR recommends the following for accessibility:

  • Affirm your commitment to ensuring that people with disabilities have opportunities equal to those of others to enjoy your programs, services, and activities, including those delivered online.
  • Select an auditor who has the necessary knowledge and experience to test content and functionality, including your PDF content, and to identify documents on your website that are not accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Conduct a thorough examination of existing online content and functionality–the WCAG 2.0 standard is a good starting point for your website and the PDFs on it.
  • Adopt policies and procedures ensuring all currently existing, newly added, or modified online content and functionality will be accessible to people with disabilities – including the PDFs.
  • Develop a corrective action plan to prioritize the removal of online barriers.
  • Post a notice on your website so that persons with disabilities know how to request access to online information or functionality that is currently inaccessible.
  • Provide website accessibility training to all appropriate personnel.

You’re Ready to be Compliant

Trying to keep your school’s websites compliant can be a challenge, but it’s a challenge that can be met.  Make sure that everyone who edits or adds content to your website is aware of the standards for accessibility and follows the guidelines. Then you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way and won’t have to worry about responding to an OCR Document Accessibility Complaint.

Reach Out to CommonLook

As the leader in making PDFs accessible for persons with disabilities, our experienced accessibility experts can help you with all aspects of document compliance and remediation. Contact us today to find out how we help your organizations achieve compliance with document accessibility standards.