Maryland schools face deadline for digital accessibility


  • United States
  • Department of Education
  • Digital compliance


  • Maryland

Driving the news – compliance deadlines approaching for Maryland legislation:

Maryland schools face an October 1st, 2024 deadline to ensure digital tools meet new accessibility standards, with significant implications for procurement and vendor compliance.

In October 2024, portions of a Maryland law will come into effect, impacting all of the digital tools that school systems develop or acquire – and holding vendors responsible for bringing digital tools into compliance successfully. The law requires the State Board and local school systems to put equivalent access at the forefront of their procurement processes and bidding evaluations. 


Passed in 2022, Maryland’s Education Code Section 7-910 requires the state’s Department of Education (DOE) and local school systems to ensure equivalent access for students with disabilities to digital tools, including online platforms, courses, and software. The law emphasizes non-visual access and aligns with Section 508 IT standards.

For vendors- high stakes compliance:

  • Non-compliant school vendors risk steep fines. The law outlines procedures and penalties for a vendor’s failure to bring a digital tool into compliance. A vendor may be fined up to $5,000 for the first offense and $10,000 for each subsequent offense
  • In addition, vendors must indemnify the State and schools for liability resulting from the use of a noncompliant digital tool.
  • Since September 2023, vendors must submit accessibility conformance reports and Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPAT) with their bids, detailing adherence to Section 508 standards.

For schools- annual reporting and procurement changes:

  • Local school systems must select digital tools that best meet both equivalent access standards and functionality requirements for use by students with disabilities.
  • Schools must also provide alternative methods of instruction where digital tools are provided to students without disabilities, but not to students with disabilities.
  • Local systems must report on accessibility by October 1 each year, guiding procurement and ensuring compliance.
  • School systems must establish a process for evaluating equivalent access and nonvisual access. That process must include an employee or contractor who specializes in WCAG, or who is a blindness specialist knowledgeable in accessibility.

Digital tools include: 

  • Online platforms and courses
  • Digital content
  • Information technology 
  • Software 
  • Operating systems connected to student instruction

Department of Education to monitor compliance: 

The Maryland DOE is tasked with monitoring compliance, and with updating accessibility requirements under COMAR 13A.06.05. This requires each school system to create its own processes and to comply with WCAG 2.1 Level AA. 

Exceptions may be made when the school system determines that a product meeting equivalent accessibility standards is not available, the nature of the instructional activity would be fundamentally altered, or there would be undue burden. Exceptions are subject to the notification, consultation, and approval of Maryland’s DOE, Department of Information Technology, and Department of Disabilities. 

Bottom line:

By October 1st, 2024, Maryland’s education sector must adapt to stringent accessibility standards, reshaping digital tool selection and vendor relations. This move underscores a commitment to inclusive education, with state monitoring ensuring ongoing adherence to WCAG 2.1 Level AA standards.

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