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School ADA Website Accessibility Complaints on the Rise

From Education Week – “Advocate Moves Needle on Website Accessibility.”

What You Need to Know

  • Educational establishments are being investigated in response to complaints received by the Office for Civil Rights. 
  • Complaints on disability discrimination were high with a focus on website accessibility. 
  • The U.S. Department of Education has reached settlements in response to complaints received. 

Disability Advocate Taking Action

As schools and districts turn to their websites to provide resources and information to students, parents, and the public, they are not always providing an accessible website for people with disabilities to navigate and find resources and information they need. 

Marcie Lipsitt sent complaints to the U.S Department of Education to investigate disability discrimination based on educational institutions and school districts that were not accessible for people who are blind and people with disabilities. Advocating for people with disabilities, Marcie Lipsitt is determined to make schools and school districts responsible for having accessible websites. 

Websites become inaccessible to people with disabilities when there are problems with text-based descriptions of non-text content such as images, non-captioned videos, navigation, text and color combinations, improperly coded tables and webforms. 

Increase of Disability Discrimination Complaints

Half of the civil rights complaints sent to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) pertained to disability discrimination. Out of the complaints, those associated with web accessibility for students with disabilities displayed a rising trend.

In Numbers: 4,800 out of 10,392, or 46%, were disability law complaints. 


The OCR opened hundreds of investigations nationwide in response to the complaints received for website inaccessibility. After investigations and analysis of the websites, settlements began to be reached between the United States Department of Education and the school districts. 

Two of the settlements that were reached with the U.S. Department of Education were Granite School District in Utah and Seattle Public Schools in Washington. Through investigation, it was demonstrated that the school district's websites were inaccessible to people with disabilities and violated the standards outlined in the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).

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Consistently, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is responding swiftly to the number of complaint files. The OCR is sending a message that they take website accessibility seriously and that the standards set forth in the ADA will be enforced when pertaining to website accessibility. 

Related Articles

K – 12 Education Web Accessibility Complaint Repository

Major Educational Institutions Continue to Settle ADA Web Accessibility Complaints

Settlement Reached with Seattle Public Schools

Granite School District reaches settlement on website accessibility violations

Supporting Materials

August 2, 2016 – Education Week 
Advocate Moves Needle on Website Accessibility

May 25, 2016 – Legal NewsLine 
Department of Education increases investigations into website compliance with ADA

May 5, 2016 – Disability Scoop 
Complaints To Education Department Largely Disability Related

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