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Posted April 7, 2017

Web Accessibility

In her weekly message, Supt. Reedy talks about the importance of making the district and school websites accessible to all.

Remember when you had to pick up the phone to book a flight; turn on the radio to listen to music; check the newspaper to find out what time your movie started; go to the library to get a book.  

All of that has changed since the evolution of the internet. Heck, almost anything you want and need is now available online – food, clothes, news, entertainment, even friends.

The World Wide Web is hardly a novelty anymore. It has become a critical information tool. I can’t think of a successful business that doesn’t rely on the web to provide services and information to its customers.

That goes for Albuquerque Public Schools, too.

APS.edu gets close to 16 million visits a year. Sixteen million! And that doesn’t count all of the visits to our school websites.

The district’s website is made up of more than 30,000 pages and 300,000 links! That’s a ton of content for parents, students and community members who depend on the site for news, information, calendar events and more.

So imagine if you couldn’t see what was posted. What would it be like if you couldn’t hear a video? How frustrating would it be if you had to wait for pictures and graphics to load because you couldn’t afford a high-speed internet connection, or if the information you needed was posted in a language you didn’t understand.

We estimate that about 20 percent of our community has some sort of disability, language barrier or outdated technology that could hamper their ability to get information from the internet, which is why it is so important to make APS.edu and all of our school websites accessible.

And that’s not just the job of the district’s tiny but tenacious web team, nor is it solely up to web managers for school and department sites.

It’s the responsibility of every single person in APS who might have information posted to the website. More than likely, that means you.

It’s not like we have a choice. Any organization that receives public funding – including public schools – is expected to make its website accessible to all users under the Americans with Disabilities Act. But even if we did have a choice, we’d choose to make our district and school websites accessible because it’s the right thing to do.

The good news is it isn’t too difficult to do. According to APS Web Manager Gretchen Kramer, if often is simply a matter of making sure words are spelled correctly, links work, videos are close captioned and pictures are tagged.

Gretchen and the web team – Jessica Mraz and Brian Beeler – have created an accessibility webpage (that’s accessible, of course) that I encourage you to visit to better understand this topic. They also provide training and are available to answer questions.

I appreciate what they’re doing and I’m happy to spread their message because it makes a difference in the lives of the students, families and community we serve. I appreciate your participation in this important effort. Like I said, it’s the right thing to do.

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