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Our commitment to accessibility and equity: achieving WCAG AA compliance

Emily Taylor
Jun 2, 2020

Earlier this school year, our product and technology teams set out to make Newsela more accessible than ever — specifically, web accessible. To that end, we’re excited to share that the Newsela student experience is now fully compliant with the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA. This certification ensures significant supports for students with disabilities, ensuring that they can:

  • Fully navigate Newsela using a keyboard 

  • Access the information on Newsela with updated colors to meet color contrast standards, and alternative text on every image, including all article photos, illustrations, graphs, and charts

  • Understand the information on the site with consistent elements and simple language

  • Use assistive technology to access content on Newsela with screen reader-friendly labels 

In pursuing this work, we sought to exceed expectations, not simply meet them. Nearly 14% of K-12 students have disabilities, and by and large, instructional materials have not been able to meet their needs. As educators and edtech providers, it’s time we raised the bar when we talk about accessibility. It’s not simply a question of devices, digital materials, or internet access. 

This work is an extension of Newsela’s overarching commitment to equity and access. We take a holistic view of promoting equity and access, whether it’s leveling content for differentiated instruction, making our content available on and offline, including diverse perspectives to reflect students’ lived experiences, or in this case, making enhancements to the site itself. After all, the content can only be as accessible as the platform on which it lives.

As disability advocate Debra Ruh said, “Accessibility allows us to tap into everyone’s potential.” We know that Newsela has no typical or normal student user–rather, we have millions of unique student users who all deserve access. Ensuring our platform is WCAG AA certified is a significant milestone in our accessibility journey, and we’re proud to deliver instructional materials that truly benefit every student. 

To learn about how teachers can help their students leverage Newsela's accessibility features, visit our support page.

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