The Research

David Klein, William Myhill, Linda Hansen, Gary Asby, Susan Michaelson, Peter Blanck. (2003). Electronic doors to education: study of high school website accessibility in Iowa. Behavioral Sciences & the Law 21(1), 27-49.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities in all aspects of daily life, including education, work, and access to places of public accommodations. Increasingly, these antidiscrimination laws are used by persons with disabilities to ensure equal access to e-commerce, and to private and public Internet websites.

To help assess the impact of the anti-discrimination mandate for educational communities, this study examined 157 website home pages of Iowa public high schools (52% of high schools in Iowa) in terms of their electronic accessibility for persons with disabilities. We predicted that accessibility problems would limit students and others from obtaining information from the Web pages as well as limit ability to navigate to other Web pages.

Findings show that although many of the Web pages examined included information in accessible formats, none of the home pages met World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards for accessibility. The most frequent accessibility problem was lack of alternative text (ALT tags) for graphics. Technical sophistication built into pages was found to reduce accessibility. Implications are discussed for schools and educational institutions for laws, policies and procedures on website accessibility.

To see how the data for this study were coded, click on the Database link above.