Does Your Website Meet 508 Compliance In Higher Education?

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The U.S. Department of Education reports that 11 percent of undergraduates have a disability.

As a result, many colleges and universities are working to offer equivalent access to electronic and information technology to their students. Section 508 guidelines provide minimum standards for web accessibility. While not all institutions are legally required to adopt Section 508 standards, many find that building compliant websites is beneficial.

Support all students and parents, regardless of disability

An inaccessible website creates a barrier for many students with disabilities. It may be difficult for them to request an admissions packet, register for classes, or find information about a major. An institution that makes the effort to provide all users with equal access sends the message that each student is important.

Your institution’s website isn’t just for students; it must also serve the needs of parents and family members. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 19 percent of Americans have a disability. Some of your students may have parents or family members who cannot navigate your website without assistance.

Are you confident in your school’s ability to reach any member of the public? If parents with disabilities have difficulty accessing or requesting information from your website, it could be detrimental to your brand. Section 508 compliance ensures that accessibility will not be a barrier to your audience.

Provide a better user experience

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 26 percent of postsecondary institutions have websites that only follow accessibility guidelines to a minor extent or not at all. These schools are missing an opportunity to reach students and families with disabilities. They are also risking an inferior user experience.

Websites that are Section 508 compliant are not just beneficial for users with disabilities. They are often well-designed, clearly organized, and easier for all users to navigate. Accessible websites include descriptive links, alternatives to multimedia, and other elements that are helpful to any visitor.

Help students find you

Section 508 compliance helps improve your website’s search engine optimization. Since accessible design is conducive to search engine crawlers, your site will be better-indexed and may appear higher in search rankings. You will be able to reach more students through organic search in addition to your traditional marketing efforts.

Section 508 compliance offers a better brand experience

Eliminating barriers is an important part of online accessibility. As students and parents navigate your website, you want them be able to get the information they need. By improving your website’s Section 508 compliance, you will be able to reach more students and parents.