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3 Ways Lightspeed Can Support Your Accessibility Compliance Efforts

Accessibility in education refers to giving all students the same access to educational experiences, services, and information regardless of whether they have a disability or not.

Learn why accessibility matters and how Lightspeed is supporting districts in their accessibility compliance efforts.

Why Accessibility Matters

As learning has become more and more digitized, accessibility concerns have moved beyond physical spaces and are now focused on ensuring websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them.

  • Overall, there are about 42.5 million Americans with disabilities, making up 13% of the civilian noninstitutionalized population.
  • The 7.3 million disabled students in the U.S. made up 15% of national public school enrollment during the 2021-22 school year.

Digital tools and resources offer countless opportunities to enhance learning experiences and engage students. However, it is important that K-12 districts ensure all students, regardless of their abilities, have equal access to educational materials and can fully participate and engage in the learning process.

It’s the Law

Providing equal access to education is not just a moral responsibility, it is also a legal one. Educational institutions are required by federal, and increasingly state, laws to ensure accessibility of digital tools and resources, and failure to comply with these standards can result in costly lawsuits and fines.

At the federal level, the two key pieces of web accessibility legislation are Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508 Amendment of the Rehabilitation Act. Additionally, a newly issued update to regulations for Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which went into effect June 24, requires public K-12 and higher education institutions to verify that their web content — including mobile apps and social media postings — is accessible for those with vision, hearing, cognitive and manual dexterity disabilities. This new rule will require education institutions to do a thorough inventory of their digital materials to ensure they are in compliance. Public schools have two or three years to comply, depending on their state or local jurisdiction and population size.

States are also making greater commitments to inclusivity with new legislation mandating all states’ digital resources meet current accessibility standards. With the recent passage of HB21-1110, Colorado makes it a state civil rights violation for a government agency to exclude people with disabilities from receiving services or benefits because of lack of accessibility. Colorado requires vendors to provide a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT), which explains how accessible their products or services are to people with disabilities, and, as part of this new law, public school districts must review each vendor’s VPAT to ensure that edtech tools meet accessibility standards. Failure to comply with HB21-1110 will carry significant penalties designed not only as a deterrent but also to underscore the importance of digital accessibility.

3 Ways Lightspeed Eases Accessibility Compliance

1. Access real-time inventory of apps in use.

To prepare for compliance with new VPAT regulations, districts should begin by taking inventory of digital tools and resources currently being used in their district. Lightspeed Digital Insight™ makes this process simple by providing a single view of district edtech usage, as well as the ability to drill down on details of each individual app, software, or online resource to see which students, classes, groups, or schools use it.

2. Identify which apps have a public VPAT.

Without a publicly available inventory of vendors with public facing VPATs, the current process for district staff to evaluate and approve edtech tools is onerous and time-consuming. To address this challenge, Lightspeed partnered with Denver Public Schools to create the first available inventory of applications with a public VPAT within Lightspeed Digital Insight.

Schools now have access to an inventory of over 3,000 commonly used applications that have a public Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT).  District teams can easily search among apps being used or reviewed whether a public VPAT is available, right in the App Activity report or Application Library.  This new feature gives staff a critical head start on accessibility review, easing resource burden and decision-making.

3. Take action now!

Whether scrambling to meet state deadlines or taking a proactive approach to digital accessibility, districts can leverage Lightspeed Digital Insight to:

  • Quickly identify which apps in use within their district have a public VPAT and which do not.
  • Expedite their app approval process by filtering apps by public VPAT availability.
  • Make the tag available on their public list.

Lightspeed Digital Insight’s VPAT tagging will help us save time and support compliance with new Colorado legislation. By providing a list of apps with public VPATs, we can more quickly assess their accessibility compliance.

Melissa SmeadInstructional Technology and Library Services

Let Lightspeed be your compliance partner. Whether vetting apps for accessibility or data privacy, find the workflows you need to make more informed technology decisions – faster.

Learn more by scheduling a demo today.