A goal for the RSU 16 website is to have its content accessible by all users, including those with different types of disabilities. In regards to accessibility, it means that whatever assisted technologies or accessibility supports are needed for the disability, they are able to programmatically determine the information from our website's content back to the user so that the user is able to understand what is being shown on the site. In order for this to happen, our website needs to follow guidelines that help us determine if the content satisfies ‘success criteria’ determined by performing usability and functional testing. These guidelines are set by the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.0, and were developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). The WAI works through a process designed to ensure broad community input and encourage consensus development.
One of the reasons we chose the web company Campus Suite to develop and host our site, is their approach to accessible websites and their support to help schools meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements. They provide documentation and training that will help us stay on track to an accessible website. In general, the topic of website accessibility runs broad and deep. Understanding the terminology, the rules, the levels of conformance, etc., is mind boggling to say the least. The best way we can keep our site compliant and accessible to all is for it to be USED. Parents, students, staff, and community members – we ask for your help. Are you able to get to everything? When you click on a link, does it work? Are you able to follow through from one page to another if an article spans more than one page? If you are vision impaired and using a NonVisual Desktop Access tool – do you get a description of a photo? For example, we require that our staff members who are inputting a photo(s) with an article or to a gallery also make sure they add a description in a specific input box that will show a description of what the photo is for those who are not able to visually see the photo. Another example is our videos should use closed captions for the hearing impaired. Most videos are YouTube videos, in which YouTube offers an option to use the closed captions; but in the event that a video makes it through using another tool and there are no closed caption options, we would like to know that so we can fix it - or take it down if it is not accessible to all.
We are in the process of developing a Website Accessibility Policy that will help us meet our goal of having an accessible website. As technology is constantly changing and upgrading, and assistive tools change – it is not realistically possible to be 100% accessible at all times. But we can determine the important areas where we want to make sure content is accessible by all users and provide ourselves a measurable goal that we can strive to meet. Your help is valued and appreciated.