Website Accessibility Considerations For Private Institutions Of Higher Education

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically increased the use of the internet and digital platforms by institutions of higher education. While providing online content has great potential to improve the ways that institutions communicate with and educate students, institutions must also be aware of their respective compliance obligations when acting in a digital world.

Thompson Coburn’s Higher Education Group previously detailed the requirements of the Department of Education’s new Distance Education Rule in a webinar for institutions looking to educate students online. This blog post focuses on website accessibility considerations and provides a high-level overview of legal requirements for private institutions of higher education.

There are two main federal laws that govern website accessibility for private institutions of higher education: Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Section 504”). State and local laws, including anti-discrimination or human rights laws, also govern online accessibility and can vary greatly based on the jurisdiction. While this blog post does not address state and local laws, institutions should be sure to understand and abide by such relevant requirements in addition to federal law.