Accessible Virtual Tours for Higher Education Are Cheaper Than the Lawsuit for Not Having Them
In today’s digital age, the accessibility of educational content is more critical than ever before. With the increasing reliance on technology for learning, higher education institutions must ensure that their digital offerings are inclusive and accessible to all students, including those with disabilities. One area where accessibility is often overlooked but can have serious consequences is virtual campus tours.
Virtual campus tours have become an integral part of the college admissions process. Prospective students use these tours to explore campus facilities, get a feel for the environment, and ultimately make informed decisions about their higher education journey. However, many institutions fail to consider the accessibility needs of all their potential students when creating these tours. This oversight can lead to significant legal and financial repercussions.
The Cost of Inaccessibility
When virtual campus tours are not designed with accessibility in mind, they can present significant barriers to students with disabilities. Visually impaired students, for example, may struggle to access vital information about campus layout, building locations, and amenities. Deaf or hard-of-hearing students may miss out on audio descriptions or narrations that provide context during the tour.
Such accessibility gaps can lead to legal action. Laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act require educational institutions to provide equal access to their programs and services, including digital content. Failure to do so can result in costly lawsuits and fines.
In recent years, there has been a surge in lawsuits against educational institutions for inaccessible digital content, including virtual campus tours. These legal battles not only drain financial resources but also tarnish an institution’s reputation and commitment to inclusivity.
The Benefits of Accessible Virtual Tours
On the flip side, investing in accessible virtual campus tours is not only a legal obligation but also a strategic advantage for higher education institutions. Here are some compelling reasons why accessible virtual tours are a wise choice:
Compliance with Legal Requirements: By ensuring that virtual tours are accessible, institutions can avoid costly legal battles and demonstrate their commitment to complying with federal and state accessibility laws.
Expanded Reach: Accessible tours open doors to a more diverse student population. Prospective students with disabilities will be more inclined to consider an institution that actively accommodates their needs.
Enhanced Reputation: Accessibility efforts are viewed positively by the public and potential donors. They contribute to a favorable institutional image, attracting more support and partnerships.
Improved User Experience: Accessible virtual tours benefit everyone, not just individuals with disabilities. Clear navigation, concise descriptions, and alternative media options enhance the user experience for all prospective students.
Future-Proofing: As technology evolves, so do accessibility standards. By investing in accessibility now, institutions can future-proof their virtual tours and stay ahead of emerging requirements.
In today’s competitive higher education landscape, institutions cannot afford to overlook accessibility in their virtual campus tours. Failing to do so not only jeopardizes legal compliance but also misses out on the opportunity to attract a diverse student body and enhance their reputation. Take a look at how the University of Cincinnati Housing Department executed their accessible virtual tours as an idea starter for your own use of these valuable marketing assets.
The cost of designing and maintaining accessible virtual tours is dwarfed by the potential financial and reputational damage caused by lawsuits resulting from inaccessibility. Higher education institutions must recognize the value of inclusivity and prioritize accessibility in all aspects of their digital offerings. By doing so, they can ensure that every student, regardless of their abilities, has equal access to the information they need to make informed decisions about their educational journey. Ultimately, accessible virtual tours are not just a legal requirement; they are a cost-effective investment in a brighter and more inclusive future for higher education.
Contact us and let’s discuss how we can get you started on your path to accessibility.