Accessibility is a hot topic in the academic space, and for good reason! Accessibility is all about eliminating barriers different individuals may have to reading and engaging with your content. In the case of K12 schools, this is commonly a Program of Studies document.
Why Accessibility is Important for K-12
There’s so much talk around accessibility, but is it actually important? The answer is a resounding yes! Accessibility isn’t simply the latest trend in education and technology, but an ongoing goal to level the playing field for students. Your K12 school likely has students from diverse backgrounds, abilities and disabilities, and home environments. While one student may have a hearing impairment, another may have a learning disability, such as dyslexia. One student may be a native English speaker, while one is an ESL student whose native tongue is Spanish. One student may have a physical handicap that prevents them from using a computer mouse, while another has a visual impairment that is exacerbated by computer screens. One student may have an array of devices at their disposal, while another student may not have a computer at home to use. These differences are just the tip of the iceberg.
Since we know that student populations are diverse, our goal should always be to meet students where they are, especially when it comes to school documentation like a student handbook or Program of Studies. By prioritizing accessibility and treating it as an ongoing initiative, we can help to eliminate hurdles these students face in accessing your Program of Studies.
Making your Program of Studies Accessible
The first step of making your Program of Studies more accessible is to host it digitally. This doesn’t mean simply publishing a PDF version on your school’s website, but instead having a fully-response, interactive version that students can search, filter, and click through. A digital version automatically boosts accessibility by firstly making your publication available anywhere, at any time. A digital platform also opens the door for content to be dynamic and changeable to meet each student’s unique needs. For example, you cannot change the language on a hard copy of your Program of Studies, but you can translate text from English to Spanish on a digital version. This is just the beginning. A digital platform lays the foundation for accessibility to be continuously improved.
A few ways we make our Program of Studies sites accessible for all:
- Responsive site designs, which allow the site to be viewed on any screen size without distortion
- On-demand PDF generation for any page in the Program of Studies, or the document in its entirety
- Language translations of site content
- Text-to-speech capabilities
- Large, easy-to-ready fonts
- Zoom functionality to increase or decrease page size, while initiating “reflow” to appropriately reformat site content to the new size
- Text hierarchy and appropriate spacing to make text easy to read
- Graphic elements, or “targets”, that are large enough to be easily clickable
- Easy-to-use user interface and search function
- High-contrast colors on site graphics
##Meeting Official Accessibility Standards While accessibility is an ever-evolving benchmark, there are some widely-accepted guidelines that set the gold standard. The most common of these is WCAG, or the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines published by W3C (World Wide Web Consortium). All Clean Catalog sites are built with these guidelines in mind and we test our Program of Studies sites against these standards prior to launch. We also frequently release software updates to keep in-step with WCAG, which is typically updated a few times a year.
If you’d like to learn more about accessibility for your Program of Studies software, feel free to reach out to us. We’d love to talk more!