Case Study: Misericordia University
“Our president received the letter alerting universities that there was a law firm targeting, and suing, NAICU members whose websites were not accessible.” Steve Filipiak, Web Content Coordinator, Misericordia University
Misericordia University received the notification in 2016. The number of web accessibility lawsuits was on the rise, and universities were among those targeted. Misericordia was ahead of the curve. The University has always prioritized accessibility with a long-standing commitment to creating an environment where all are welcome. That environment extends beyond the physical campus and includes the school’s online presence.
To further enhance its overall digital accessibility effort, a task force was created. A team attempting to keep up with changing technology to continuously ensure inclusivity. It wasn’t until 2018 that Misericordia University, through its partnership with CMS provider Finalsite, implemented the AudioEye digital accessibility solution. On the Finalsite platform, Misericordia was able to quickly take its accessibility effort to the next level.
“It was as easy as signing the contract with Finalsite and AudioEye. All we needed was a single line of code added to our site and then AudioEye’s team and technology took over. No need for a full-scale approach from a team of people at Misericordia. I breathe easy knowing we can focus on our content while AudioEye focuses on everything else,” said Dave Johndrow, Misericordia University's Manager of PC Services.
AudioEye’s service identifies accessibility issues and errors, remediates them, continuously monitors and tests for ongoing errors, and certifies digital content is accessible 24/7. Sites also receive the AudioEye Toolbar, which includes enhanced personalization tools enabling a fully customizable experience – allowing individual users to adjust things like color contrast, change font type, create more space between words or letters. Included in the Toolbar is the AudioEye Certification.
According to Dave, “Just having the AudioEye accessibility icon on every page on our site is like having the big dog on the porch. We’re demonstrating to every visitor not only our compliance but our commitment to true inclusivity.”
Since implementation, on any given day, Misericordia’s website sits at upwards of 95% accessible. The industry standard for education is closer to 71%. The University has significantly mitigated its risk of a web accessibility lawsuit, in an environment when the number of lawsuits continues to skyrocket. Further, hundreds of colleges and universities are currently under investigation by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights for failing to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities.
But compliance has never been the driving motivation for Misericordia.
“More accessible means more usable – an overall better user experience for everyone, and that’s a win/win. But it’s also just the right thing to do,” Steve said. Dave added, “It’s being a good citizen. If every organization committed to digital accessibility, there’s no doubt the online world would be a much better place for all.”
All we needed was a single line of code added to our site and then AudioEye’s team and technology took over.”
Manager, PC Services
Educational institutions are required by law to make their digital content accessible to people with disabilities. Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibit disability discrimination. If your educational institution receives federal funds, it also falls under requirements of Section 508. If your digital content does not meet with ADA compliance standards, you could become the target of an OCR investigation.
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