Schools Must Be Made Accessible More Than Ever
Back in April 2020, while amidst great world changes, I looked at why web accessibility has become crucial in the blog, Web Accessibility More Relevant Than Ever. As I highlighted, schools, in particular, have been navigating a steep transition towards online learning due to the pandemic. As schools become more reliant on digital technology to engage with students and deliver classes, making their websites accessible needs to be a priority. Fortunately, I am not alone in making this argument. Last week I read an article by the Bureau of Internet Accessibility, titled Back to School: The Pandemic Makes Accessibility in Education More Important Than Ever. It also highlights similar issues and discusses why schools must make their websites accessible. One important reason is because students with disabilities ‘must enjoy fair and equitable access to education.’
Accessible school websites are relatively new in South Australia. My company, Edu Net Solutiions, developed an accessible website for Whyalla Special Education Centre in June 2019 and this was the first school website accessible in the state. Since then, Edu Net Solutions has developed a small but growing number of accessible websites for schools. But, with all honesty, my company should not be doing this alone for the educational sector. Digital accessibility in the classroom should not be a rarity; it needs to be the norm.
I have no doubt that a digital divide has been exposed in the last few months in Australia, as remote learning has become the only way to reach students. Students with disabilities rely on assistive technologies to navigate schools websites; if these websites are not built with accessibility in mind, they won’t be able to access their schoolwork.
In South Australia, we are incredibly lucky to have a policy that defines accessibility requirements for all content and functionality for schools’ online presence. While this policy is aimed at South Australian Government online applications, such as public-facing school websites, private schools and all other organisations should also implement digital accessibility, as they will be able to reach all members of our community.
If you run a private organisation or business, then consider this added incentive. At present, you are constantly competing for high Google rankings in order to drive traffic to your website. However, what you may not know is that Google ranks accessible website higher than inaccessible ones. By making your website accessible, you could potentially attract more traffic organically and therefore, save money in marketing.
This pandemic has underlined why schools must be made accessible more than ever.
Would you like your school website to be accessible? Yes? Get in touch with us today, we’d love to see if we can help you.