To enhance accessibility to online information for users with disabilities, Lake County Schools is changing its website. The public will be able to take an early peek at the new site this month, when the old and new sites will operate simultaneously.

Many of the new school and department pages are still under construction. The preview site will allow staff to test its functions. It also will give stakeholders a chance to learn the navigation and feel of the new site, which will officially launch this summer.

It will support assistive technology to help people with physical impairments access content. For example, screen readers can provide an audio version of electronic documents for users who are sight impaired, and to accommodate those who are hearing impaired, on-screen captions can be posted to match the words spoken in a video.

Currently, the district uses software that identifies accessibility issues. Then, staff is tasked with fixing each issue manually. It’s a time-consuming effort that exceeds the district’s personnel capacity. The new site, hosted by Finalsite, will use AudioEye software that not only identifies accessibility issues but also addresses any issues it finds.

The $60,143 annual cost for the new site was approved by the School Board in June last year.

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