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Web Sites

You might not know it, but individuals who are blind, visually impaired, and deafblind use web sites to access the world; however, many web sites, old and new, are either totally inaccessible or partially so. When educational sites are inaccessible, this creates an inequality, another barrier for persons with disabilities to endure. When web sites are designed from the ground up using W3C standards-based mark-up with an eye towards accessibility issues, a web site has a better chance of being a portal to the world versus a black hole, an empty page.

Online and Digital Instruction

There has been an upsurge in the number of companies and non-profits promoting educational software, online courses, and learning management systems. Some of these products have been designed with accessibility and usability standards from the ground up; some are retrofitting after discovering problems; and others are blithely unaware. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is not ambiguous--any product used should not leave people with disabilities at an educational disadvantage. Entities working within the educational market need to work within the legal framework of our field. Click on the following link to learn more about accessibility for online and digital instruction.

Media Players

Some might ask: Why would an individual who is blind or deafblind need access to content from a video or audio file? Much original content, including promotional, instructional, and entertainment is created with video cameras or audio recorders. Many people love to learn by watching; ours is a multimedia culture. Media clearly needs to be made accessible to people with disabilities in order for them to experience and to learn along with everyone else. The problem is often threefold: no captions, no audio description of the video, and a player that cannot be accessed by screen readers thus rendering the controls (play, pause, rewind, etc.) unreachable or the player invisible.

Section 504 Compliance

What does one do with the information above? School districts, administrators, teachers, parents, and students can start by becoming familiar with Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act. If new websites and software are being introduced in an educational setting a good question to ask salespeople, developers, and other interested parties is a simple one: Is this technology Section 504 compliant? What accommodations have been made to make the product accessible? Below are educational links on Sections 504 and 508.

Accessibility Links for Sections 504 and 508

      Web AIM on 

Rehabilitation Act of 1973--by Web AIM

      Special Education in Texas 

Section 504--by TEA

      Texas Project FIRST on 

Section 504 and Parents--by Family to Family Network

      Open Source definition for 

Section 504--by Wikipedia