New Jersey’s education websites face deadlines for compliance with accessibility laws

Topics:

  • Legislation
  • Regulation

Location:

  • New Jersey
  • United States

Driving the news – compliance deadlines approaching for New Jersey legislation:

Recently-passed legislation in the State of New Jersey will require public educational institutions to provide the State with statements of assurance for their websites and web services by July 1, 2024.

In 2021, New Jersey passed legislation (N.J.S.A. 18A:36-35.1) that would require websites and web services for state school districts, charter schools, renaissance schools, and the Marie H. Katzenbach School for the Deaf to comply with WCAG 2.1 Level AA success criteria. 

These standards also apply to educational materials, like any third party or open resources that schools make available to their students or the general public. 

What happens next:

To show their compliance with the new law, the impacted public school systems must provide statements of assurance to the Department of Education. The law also gives the state’s Commissioner of Education the authority to demand compliance with more up-to-date versions of WCAG, or any other guidelines the Commissioner deems necessary.

  • Statements of assurance for existing websites must be provided to the State by July 1, 2024. 
  • Additionally, school systems must provide statements of assurance for every new website or web services created after July 1, 2022. 
  • These statements must be posted on the Department of Education’s website, and must be updated every two years. 

The accessibility landscape in New Jersey: 

Today, New Jersey is already addressing accessibility across education, transit and a number of other key initiatives to improve digital accessibility. Back in 2016, the state was the subject of a Federal DOE investigation that resulted in a settlement agreement, requiring them to comply with WCAG 2.0. 

Transit:

The New Jersey Transit Authority recently launched a new app as part of a pilot program designed to help visually impaired riders get real-time bus info. 

Education:

The New Jersey legislature recently introduced a bill (NJ S 2142) instructing the state’s Commissioner of Education and the Office of Information Technology to establish a three-year pilot program to support students who have dyslexia or related conditions. The program would provide:

  • Access to assistive technology and services in the classroom to support reading at grade level and enhance students’ ability to complete written assignments.  
  • Grants to pilot districts to cover the costs of acquiring the assistive technology, related services, and training for teachers on how to use this technology. 

State agencies: 

  • NJ S 2142 would require each State Cabinet-level department to establish an office dedicated to language and disability access; and
  • NJ S 1016 would establish Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA as the accessibility standard for the web pages, sites, and services of all state agencies.

The bottom line:

Compliance dates for recently-passed legislation in the state of New Jersey are quickly approaching. Click below to find out more about WCAG success criteria.

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