Website Vendors

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Every website owner is charged with selecting the appropriate accessible platform that meets their community’s needs and their technology skill level. A few things to keep in mind when researching the best platform for your website:

ERMA Compliance

All website vendors must have a ”Completed” Enterprise Request Management Application (ERMA) status as of July 1, 2023. Anything else–ranging from “initiated,” “in-progress” or, “there are no records to display”–cannot be used.

If you want to use a website vendor that has not yet completed the ERMA process, please follow the steps under Getting Started section of the InfoHub's ERMA page and work with the vendor towards Completion . If the vendor is unwilling or unable to complete ERMA, according to DOE policy, schools must change vendors.

Vendors’ Status in ERMA

Not all website products that are currently in use by schools have a “Completed” status in ERMA. While you can check a company’s/project’s status at the EdTech Portal, below is the website vendors’ status as of May 2024.

Completed

  • eChalk
  • Edlio
  • Educational Networks/SchoolSitePro
  • Google Sites
  • SchoolMessenger/Intrado
  • Wix

In Progress

  • EduTech Studio
  • Blackboard/FinalSite

Not on ERMA

  • Squarespace
  • Weebly
  • Wordpress.com

Accessibility

When choosing a website platform, you need to ensure that it meets the WCAG 2.1 Guidelines at a level AA. That includes:

  • Being completely navigable at a 200% zoom
  • Having “Skip to main content” links for tabbing through
  • No auto-play on the site
  • The ability for users to tab-through content, including all the alerts, navigation and sub-navigation, videos, galleries, chats, etc.
  • The ability to exit each of the above using the tab AND Escape keys
  • Remember …
    • automated testing only captures about 30% of all digital accessibility issues.
    • While an accessible platform helps, accessibility is easily compromised if posts are not created in an accessible format. Be sure to follow all the guidance we have outlined on the Making Accessible Content page.

Accessibility Questions to Ask Potential Vendors

  • Be sure to discuss all aspects of a platform’s support for accessibility with its reps before making a commitment. Questions to ask:
    • Require the vendor to provide a completed GSA Section 508 approved Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) or equivalent verifying product accessibility.
      • If the vendor is unwilling to share their VPAT, they are not committed to accessibility.
    • Can you update the site yourself? Or do you submit content to someone on their staff?
      • If the latter, how long is the turnaround time?
    • Do they have an WCAG 2.1 AA digitally accessible template? Provide template name and example site?
    • Do they have built-in web-based accessibility checker?
    • How much support do they give you?
      • Do you have to learn how to code?
      • Do you need to stay on top of add-ons to keep it accessible?
    • What type of training do they provide?
    • Can the platform support the level of interactivity, messaging, and frequent updates your website needs?
    • Is your website vendor's status in ERMA? If not, have you initiated it and connected them with the requirements below?

Cost

  • Some websites offer a free version--and at an additional cost, you can purchase more features/support. Be sure to talk with their representatives for more specific pricing information.
    • Find out what happens if you decide to move from a paid-for service back to the free one?
  • Others offer only fee-based services.
    • Identify what that cost gives you and your website.

Which platforms are most accessible?

Fee-based platforms

The three highest-scoring fee-based vendors are eChalk, Edutech Studio and Edlio. They each have accessible templates, and all also rank high for customer service.

Free / low-cost platforms

The highest-scoring free/low-cost vendor with a demonstrated commitment to accessibility is Wix:

  • Wix has worked with the NYC DOE to create an accessible template. They also have developed a built-in digital accessibility checker and developed workarounds to meet some basic accessibility requirements.
  • Google does not have an accessible template or built-in accessibility checker. They have recently added accessible functionality like “Skip to main content” and “Skip to main navigation." However, their color contrast issues require dark text on a light background in order to be accessible.

Schools' Current Website Vendors & Latest Accessibility Report Scores

The list below is in order of most-to-least accessible website vendors. Note that:

  • This is as of the latest Website Accessibility Reports (April 2024)
  • Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding
Vendor /
# Average Weighted Errors
# DOE SitesScore 5Score 4Score 3Score 2 or less
1EduTech Studio / 1.044298%2%0%0%
2eChalk / 1.2825291%8%1%0%
3Edlio / 2.7119967%32%1%1%
4Educational Networks / 6.045737%53%5%6%
5Google Sites / 9.9516220%54%16%9%
6Wix / 12.0517223%39%20%32%
7Wordpress / 14.5714711%41%29%18%
8SchoolMessenger / 15.482110%19%57%15%
9Squarespace / 19.861058%31% 26%35%
10Weebly / 16.77498%39%29%24%
11Blackboard / FinalSite / 25.59119%64%9%18%

Guidance for Vendors

All vendors have an obligation, as per the NYC DOE’s agreement with the US DOE’s Office of Civil Rights, to provide products, information, and resources–even print ones–in a digital format that is accessible to people with disabilities and/or who speak a language other than English. 

That includes providing:

Vendor Resources and Recommendations

The vendors below are listed in high to low order based on their demonstrated commitment to accessibility. and include links to resources both onsite and off. But you shouldn’t pick a platform without talking to the vendors yourself.

eChalk

ERMA Status: Completed
Paid/Low Cost: Paid

Resources

EduTechStudio

ERMA Status: Not on ERMA
Paid/Low Cost: Paid

Resources

Edlio

ERMA Status: Completed
Paid/Low Cost: Paid

Resources

Educational Networks

ERMA Status: Completed
Paid/Low Cost: Paid

Resources


Google Sites

ERMA Status: Completed
Paid/Low Cost: Free

Resources

Wix

ERMA Status: Completed
Paid/Low Cost: Free and paid for options--see vendor page for details cost

Resources

Squarespace

ERMA Status: Not on ERMA
Paid/Low CostPaid

Resources

WordPress

ERMA Status:  Not on ERMA
Paid/Low Cost: Free and paid for options--see vendor page for detail

Resources

Blackboard/FinalSite

ERMA Status: In Progress
Paid/Low Cost: Paid

Resources

Weebly

ERMA Status:  Not on ERMA
Paid/Low Cost: Free

Resources

  • Weebly was bought by Square and has changed its focus. They are not supporting accessibility. If you currently use Weebly, we suggest you consider another platform.

SchoolMessenger

ERMA Status:  Completed
Paid/Low Cost: Paid

Resources

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