Neshaminy website ADA compliance information
Neshaminy is committed to ensuring that our Blackboard Web Community Manager platform is usable and accessible to users of all abilities.
Our new website template, which was launched in Spring 2017, was designed and developed in accordance with the internationally recognized Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA as well as the Section 508 standards in the United States. Blackboard has a third party conduct regular audits of the user interface, code and design techniques to ensure that accessibility quality expectations are being met and maintained.
The Web Community Manager platform approaches accessibility in the following ways:
- Template-based pages and apps provide consistent interactions and user experience across pages.
- Allows clients to configure their templates while still remaining within the color contrast ratio.
- Provides full support for keyboard navigation.
- Text can be resized 200 percent without loss of content or functionality.
- Contains page titles with the name of the workspace within which the user is working.
Administrators, teachers and support staff who create and post content on our digital platforms should familiarize themselves with the proper methods of sharing information to ensure that all users can access content. The following are a few examples of content commonly found on teacher and school websites that are NOT compliant with WCAG standards:
- Non scanner-readable text found in images (such as memes, GIF's, JPEG's, and image scans of text documents)
- Images with no or limited descriptive alternative text ("alt" tag, required in Site Manager)
- Low-contrast text or text set against low-contrast bacgrounds
- Information conveyed by use of color alone (for exanple, a list where red text denotes homework and green text denotes a class assignment)
- Flashing or moving text and images (GIF's for example)
- Videos with no captions
While students are in school they may receive staff assistance with accessing digital media. But it is important to keep in mind that parents or guardians who may want to see what their children are studying and assist them at home may also need to access that content if that content is available through the website. This can include worksheets, theses, syllabi, practice tests, and links to digital resources used in the classroom.
How can you keep the website pages you manage compliant? Here are a few easy ways:
Use the apps
Our Neshaminy website template manager (Site Manager) includes a number of apps that when used properly, ensure compliance by formatting content correctly. Previously many teachers and administrators used the Flex Editor app, formatting their text, images and links on the fly using brightly colored fonts, animated GIF's and other non-compliant elements. The new Blackboard apps might not be as free-form as Flex Editor, but the limited fonts and styles wil ensure compliance while giving the entire site a clean, consistent look at the same time. And as a bonus, recurring-use items (such as text documents) can be managed easier when the correct apps are used.
Examples of commonly-used Blackboard Site Manager apps useful to teachers:
- Content: This is the closest thing to the old Flex Editor, but with less fonts and formatting options.
- Link Library: Post and organize a list of links on a page.
- File Library: Post documents on a page (PDF preferred). This app allows you to re-organize them any time and turn them on and off as needed.
- Minibase: Create a database (our teacher and departmental contact pages under 'Academics' on each site are an example of a Minibase).
- Table: Yes, you can still create tables in the new template by using this app but the options and colors are limited to ensure compliance.
Multiple apps can be added to any website page.
Keep it simple
While it is tempting to add lots of colorful decorative elements to make a web page more inviting, keep in mind that most website visitors spend very little time on each page and the goal is to get them to the information they need quickly an efficiently. Keep it simple and clean. Focus on the content, not the frame. A clean layout with a single well-chosen image on a page is far more effective than a collage of clip art and flashy text.
Limit the use of colored text and backgrounds. It's OK to use a little color to enhance the look of a page, but those text colors must have enough contrast to be readable by those with impaired vision and must not be used to convey information (as described above).
Avoid multilple columns of text or unusual layouts whenever possible; not only are these often non-compliant but they may be difficult to read on a mobile device.
Create compliant documents
Follow these guidelines to create compliant documents:
- Save files as PDF documents (this can be done by Saving As...from Word, Google Docs and other software). The PDF format preserves text-reading capibilities while also ensuring your viewers can access the documents using the free Acrobat reader (not everybody has the latest version of Word).
- Don't scan documents as images. Though this may be a fast way to digitize an old document or flyer, it may create a non-compliant image. Better to take the time and re-create the document as readable text.
- Use OCR software to convert non-readable text. If you have access to Adobe Acrobat Pro, the OCR tool can save time by converting scanned text into readable text. This may require some editing depending on the quality of the scan, however.
- If you need to post a published sheet (such as a math worksheet), be aware that this may not be compliant. As the educational world moves more toward digital platforms, publishers are starting to offer online tools that are preferable. Posting published materials publicly on our website may also violate copyright laws.
Describe your images
Site Manager requires you to add 'Alt' text when you upload an image. This descriptor is very important as it can be used by somebody with limited vision to understand what is happening in the photo. A complete full-sentence description should be added to every image posted seperately on a page. Anything a fully-sighted visitor can see should be described.
Here is an example:
- Incorrect: "NHS award winners"
- Better: "Neshaminy High School Future Business Leaders of America club members pose with their award medals"
- Even better: "Ten Neshaminy High School Future Business Leaders of America club members pose with their award medals on a patio outside Delaware Valley University"
There is no need to put the word LINK before a web link. Most screen readers will correctly identify a link within a sentence as a link and tell the user it is a link. A correct example would be the following: Neshaminy School District has a website.
For a list of links, the Link Library app will correctly format the links automatically, you just need to fill in the information in the app.
As the use of video skyrockets in our classrooms, accessibility will need to be considered for those with visual impairments as well as those with hearing impairments. This is an emerging field, and can be a problem as most casual video content creators don't have the software or knowledge to correctly caption videos. Fortunately some simple online solutions already exist and more are in development:
- Videos uploaded to YouTube can be automatically closed-captioned using their captioning service. When enabled in their Creator Studio, the soundtrack of an uploaded video can be scanned and a transcript provided. This can be modified by the video creator before publishing. Alternatively, the video creator can just add closed captions manually.
- Various free tools are available to accomplish this task. See the links below for information.
- Videos linked from educational or other sources may already have closed captioning integrated. Before linking, be sure to check by clikcing on the closed caption link to see if it is operational.
For More Information
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
WCAG 2.0 Guidelines from the Web Accessibility Initiative
WAVE Web Accessibility tool
Enter the URL of your website page and the WAVE tool will identify accessibility issues
Web Accessibility in Mind (WebAIM)
A collection of resources, articles and other information on accessibility
Video captioning services
Free caption services available
Education Week: Ten Things School Districts Should Know
Article from Education Week blog on website accessibility
Identifying Web Accessibility Issues
Article from the National Center on Disability and Access to Education
Article: Is Your School's Website ADA Compliant?
Information and links to ADA compliance resources