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Moorestown district updating website for accessibility

Burlington County Times - 7/5/2018

MOORESTOWN - By the end of the summer, the township school district's website should be compliant with U.S. Department of Education guidelines on accessibility for individuals with disabilities, officials said.

The department's Office for Civil Rights found earlier this year that Moorestown's website did not meet the guidelines set out by various anti-discrimination laws for providing equal access to information for people of all abilities. The township Board of Education voted in May to pass a resolution to bring to site up to the department's terms.

Superintendent Scott McCartney said accessibility has become an increasingly pressing concern as more and more communication takes place online. Legislation introduced in January further brought accessibility into the spotlight, said Jeff Arey, district director of information technology.

The information technology team is in the process of analyzing the website's accessibility and adjusting accordingly. For individuals with low vision or total loss of sight, captions need to be fully descriptive, and along with PDF files, must be compatible with reading assistive technology. Color contrast on the web page also is important for some individuals.

Closed-captioning also will be added to make video content accessible to those with partial or full hearing loss.

"So far (the cost has) mostly just been time, the time to go through things on the site and figuring out what needs fixing," Arey said. "And either fixing it or contacting someone else who has more responsibility for that type of content and having them work on fixing it."

The team is making necessary changes as soon as it identifies problems, officials said.

McCartney said he and Arey have been able to draw from other districts' experiences enhancing website accessibility throughout the process. Other districts have faced similar problems, McCartney said.

The Department of Education gave the district until Sept. 30 to produce a plan for total compliance with accessibility guidelines. The website will be reviewed throughout 2019.

McCartney said staff will be taught how to ensure website compliance as new content is posted to the site.

"Obviously (making time) takes staff and resources sometimes away from other, more typical tasks," McCartney said. "But we understand the reasons behind it and are supportive of making sure all of our community members can access the content on our web page."

McCartney and Arey said the district has not received complaints from the community about website accessibility, but a request for comments and concerns recently was posted to the site.

"And most of my discussions seem to be (about accessibility) as a global concept, more than a personal issue with a resident or a community member," McCartney said. "I have yet to hear anybody that's had anything more than a broad-brush conversation about accessibility."

 
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