ADA Compliance and Your Website

  • Saint Paul Public Schools is required to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with regard to digital communication.

    In 2018 new federal requirements for how websites must be accessible per the ADA were released.

    The Blackboard Content Management Platform provides tools that meet these requirements, but each site editor also has the responsibility to ensure they are using the tools to meet these requirements.

    Common disability challenges with regard to websites are sight (photos, color contrast) and hearing (code in the website that identifies images and can be read by the computer through electronic “screen reader” technology); mislabeled links; and the lack of closed captioning with video.

    Some key factors to when editing your websites:


    • SEO. Search Engine Optimization is the practice of using concise but descriptive headlines and content to allow search engines to find information on the Internet.
      • Example: An editor should use the headline "Title I Compact for Obama Elementary" and not just "Title I Compact." The more thorough description will provide the end user more detail about when they get search results.
      • These techniques align with most ADA compliant sites, simply because SEO provides thorough and descriptive language about the content for a screen reader.


    • Colors. Color blindness as a disability can affect two areas of our website:
      • Text color. Some colors are not visible with regard to color blindness. Do not use different colors as the only means to convey information or to emphasize words to make them stand out. Screen readers do not identify text color, nor do they recognize bold, italic, or other formatting.
      • Contrast. If you are posting graphics, or using reverse text (such as white text over a gray background), the contrast must meet a standard to visibly set the text apart.
      • Link: Color contrast checking tool


    • Captions / Hover Captions for images. “Alt tags” are the captions that appear when a user hovers their mouse over an image on our site. The Site Manager forces the user to input a descriptive “alt tag” caption — but it’s up to the user to provide that description. Avoid using generic terms like “picture” or “image” or the file name to describe images; instead, provide descriptions such as “children in first-grade classroom” etc. That said, be mindful to not provide overwhelming detail.


    • Images of text, or blinking images/animation. Animated gifs and/or any blinking words or animation can trigger reactions with some disabilities. Images of words can be problematic with ADA, as the words cannot be highlighted by a mouse or read by a screen reader.


    • Descriptive links. Avoid the use of phrases such as “click here” and “click for more” whenever possible. Screen readers can identify hyperlinks, but they cannot identify what the link is about. Links should be self describing, not repetitive, and properly differentiated from surrounding text, such as:


    • PDFs. Not all PDFs meet ADA compliance standards. Programs such as Microsoft Word and PowerPoint in the SPPS Office 365 suite now provide a tool similar to spellcheck that can review if a document meets accessibility standards. If you are using Microsoft tools to create PDFs, use the “Check Accessibility” tool under the REVIEW tab before saving as a PDF.

    • Google Docs. Use the tools under the Format menu to make your document accessible. Most notably, the Title, Subtitle and Heading tools should always be used when creating sections in your document. Bolding, underlining or italicizing headers does not indicate to someone using a screenreader that a header or subheader is there. Using these tools helps screenreaders scan documents coherently.


    • Video: Closed Captioning. Videos should provide closed captioning when published. Video services such as YouTube can be programmed to automatically program captions. SPPS’ video hosting vendor, EduVision, also provides this service. If you are using video on your site or page and you are unsure if you are meeting ADA guidelines, please contact the Office of Communications.


    • Tables. Avoid the use of tables in the CMS if possible. SPPS’ mobile design is not compatible with traditional table coding, and tables do not present information in a format that is easily translated by screen readers. If you need to use a table, please consult with ADA guidelines how to best present your information.


    • iFrames and Embedded Content. If you are embedding content, note: iFrames are not indexed, which means screen readers cannot read them. In addition, any content that appears on an iFramed site that is not compatible will appear as though it is on the SPPS site. Please follow SPPS guidelines if you are embedding content such as Twitter feeds or other third-party widgets.


    • Links to non-district approved sites. If you are a teacher and have built an alternative site outside the District purview, your site may not be in compliance. For this reason alone, please use District platforms and software to ensure SPPS is compliant.

    If someone contacts you at your school or department and informs you about any concerns about the website's accessibility, please contact the Office of Communications or direct them to the link at the bottom of all SPPS websites labeled "ADA Compliance," which links to: