Is your website and technology compliant with new accessibility requirements? Here are the basics.

UPDATE: On April 15, the Colorado legislature introduced HB24-1454: Grace Period Noncompliance Digital Accessibility. If passed, the bill will provide a one-year extension to July 1, 2025 of immunity from liability for failure to comply with the digital accessibility standards for an agency that demonstrates good faith efforts toward compliance or toward resolution of any complaint of noncompliance.

In 2021, Colorado became the first state to require both state and local governments to meet web accessibility standards. Passed during the regular legislative session, HB21-1110 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. The League sought legal input, and it was confirmed that Colorado charters are required to abide by this new law. 

Does this apply to us? Schools that are already compliant have nothing to do in this instance and many third-party providers and platform developers have already crossed this bridge. However, if you are unaware of these standards or are not sure where your technology stands in terms of accessibility, now is the time to look into evaluation, assessment, and possible fixes. 

Watch the replay of our Feb. 26 workshop with the Colorado Office of Information Technology (OIT) here. Passcode: %%hTB4.Y

The experts on applicability indicate the bill requires compliance by charter schools, as of July 1, 2024, with tech accessibility standards ‘published by the World Wide Web Consortium web accessibility initiative, the international accessibility guidelines working group, or any successor group or organization as determined by the state office of information technology, says the expert (see additional background information from the state OIT in the second half of this article.

According to AccessiBe, "In brief, the law takes some protections that are already included in the federal ADA act and encodes them in state law."

Some new consequences: Being out of compliance with state web accessibility standards could now be subject to injunctive relief, meaning a court order, monetary damages, or a fine of $3,500. SB23-244, passed during the 2023 legislative session, helps to clear up ambiguity within HB21-1110 by clarifying statutory language to ensure the provision of reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities. 

View the League's Policy One-Pager for HB21-1110 on our policy one-pagers web page.


To what technology does it apply?

  • All technology, software, and hardware that is both public-facing and internal-facing. 
  • Any technology provided by or procured by a government entity that is used by the public or used by a government entity employee.
  • This technology includes, but is not limited to, websites, applications, kiosks, digital signage, documents, video, audio, and third-party tools.

Global Village Academy Collaborative (GVAC), which started work on this in the fall, is developing a strategic plan to best meet these new requirements before the July 1 deadline. Christine Toulouse, Director of Marketing & Communications, says the plan is focused on improving the accessibility of its websites, e-newsletters, and other apps the schools use. She also says GVAC is “developing training on creating fully accessible PDFs and classroom presentations.”


Ten Steps to Compliance

The following is meant as a high-level overview of steps that schools can take to make their technology accessible per HB21-1110. It may not be a comprehensive list, and all schools should do their own research to ensure their particular technologies are compliant.

  1. Images. All images must have descriptive ALT text, including banners, tile boxes, logos, and charts. This is usually less than 150 characters. 
  2. Headers. Use headings in a logical, hierarchical order (e.g. Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.) and make sure they accurately describe the content that follows.
  3. Font Size. Use a font size that is large enough to be easily read by all individuals, especially those with visual impairments. The minimum font size recommended by accessibility standards is 12 points.
  4. Descriptive Links. Use very descriptive words that link to a URL rather than showing the entire URL.
  5. Emails. Always spell out email addresses, i.e. [email protected]. Do not use descriptive links or an icon.
  6. Color Contrast. The text color should have enough contrast with the background color to make it easy to read. Use online tools to check the contrast ratio. Keep adequate white space around text and between lines of text to make it easier to read and understand the information. 
  7. Layout. Use a clear, simple layout that is easy to follow. Avoid wrapping text around images or other elements when possible.
  8. Tables. Tables should not be used for layout purposes. They should be used to communicate the relationship of data and not to organize information for visual purposes.
  9. Accessible PDFs. PDFs are intended for print, not screen. Do not use a PDF to present digital content that could be a webpage. If you must have your information in a PDF, ensure it is accessible, which can be done in Microsoft Word or Acrobat. Do not create PDF files directly from Google Docs. Saving a PDF directly from this platform creates an untagged PDF, which is inaccessible for screen reader users. You must first download it as a Microsoft Word document and follow accessibility guidelines within it.
  10. Audio Descriptions. A video presentation may include identified speakers or on-screen instructions. If this information is not communicated through the regular audio track, then it is necessary to include this information as an audio description, including directional cues and other on-screen information.

Helpful Resources

The Colorado School Public Relations Association (COSPRA), in conjunction with the Colorado Office of Information Technology (OIT), hosted a webinar on the topic, the replay of which is here. 

COSPRA has also conducted two webinars for Colorado school districts to date. View BVSD’s replay here and PVSD’s here.

For even more information, contact the Colorado Office of Information Technology at [email protected]. You can also sign up here for their monthly newsletter here.