CMS addresses website issue, Department of Education complaint - | WBTV Charlotte

CMS addresses website issue, Department of Education complaint

(Dedrick Russell | WBTV) (Dedrick Russell | WBTV)

Back in August the Department of Education received a complaint about Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District's (CMS) website. The complaint dealt with parents who have hearing and vision disabilities. They claim they have a hard time navigating the district's website. 

"Websites are a form of communications," Disability Resources & Rights Executive Director Julia Sain said. "The law says you have to have communications that's effective for everybody. How do you do that?"

Sain has looked at the district's website and had some concerns with it. The first thing that jumped out at her is the contact information for people who need help understanding the website was hard to find.  

"It's supposed to be on the front page," Sain said. "And it's supposed to be prominent."

She kept scrolling and found the contact information.

"There it is at the bottom," she said.  "If I was king of the forest, I would put it right up here where it is so obvious."

The executive director says the law to take care of people with disabilities was passed 26 years ago.

"How is it that the law was passed in 1990 and things are still not right?"

Another problem she discovered are the pictures on the website. There should be an explanation attached to the pictures.

"You have to embed language telling somebody who is blind or has low vision what that picture is, and what that picture is for and why somebody picked that picture," said Sain.

The site reviews websites and picks out what is lacking as it relates to serving people with disabilities. Glenn Boothe has been a webmaster for about 15 years. He recently entered CMS' website and found some areas of concern. One issue he found is that the the text on the website can be difficult to read.

"Rather than white background black text, they can do black background and white text. Currently, it's not optimal for that kind of behavior," Boothe said.

CMS sent WBTV this statement regarding the Department of Education investigating its website.

"Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is one of a number of school districts across the country to receive notice from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights about our district's websites. We are committed to making improvements that will make our website content more accessible to individuals with disabilities, including those with visual impairments. We are currently developing a plan to do so."

Sain hopes CMS fixes the problem soon so no parent will feel left out.

"It is not equality," Sain said. "It is not a totally inclusive community. And website access is the new portal that we use for all information, and when that isn't available, and because information is power - it limits a person's ability to be as independent as they choose to be."

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