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.

Do Your Research

A few things to keep in mind when researching the best platform for your website:

Accessibility

When choosing a website platform, you need to ensure that it meets the WCAG 2.0 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.

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 2.0 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 addons 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?

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.

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

Recommended: Yes
Paid/Low Cost: Paid

Resources

EduTechStudio

Recommended: Yes
Paid/Low Cost: Paid

Resources

Edlio

Recommended: Yes
Paid/Low Cost: Paid

Resources

Wix

Recommended: Yes
Paid/Low Cost: Free and paid for options--see vendor page for details cost

Resources

Google Sites

Recommended: No
Paid/Low Cost: Free

Resources

Blackboard/Schoolwires

Recommended: No
Paid/Low Cost: Paid

Resources

WordPress

Recommended: No
Paid/Low Cost: Free and paid for options--see vendor page for detail

Resources

Weebly

Recommended: No
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.

Squarespace

Recommended: No
Paid/Low Cost: Paid

Resources

SchoolMessenger

Recommended: No--especially as SchoolMessenger is currently blocking our website accessibility report partners from assessing their sites.
Paid/Low Cost: Paid

Resources

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 (June 29, 2022)
  • SchoolMessenger sites could not be evaluated as they blocked the website accessibility scanning tool.
    • If your school uses SchoolMessenger, the Office of Digital Accessibility will reach out to your school principal and webmaster directly to help resolve the issue.
RankVendor# DOE SitesScore 5Score 4Score 3Score 2 or less
1eChalk30192%8%0%0%
2EduTechStudio3797%3%0%0%
3Edlio15081%17%1%0%
4Wix20332%40%15%13%
5Google Sites20530%43%19%8%
6Wordpress17225%39%13%23%
7Blackboard/Schoolwires1323%54%0%23%
8Weebly78%14%42%26%18%
9Squarespace7113%48%28%11%
10SchoolMessenger28n/an/an/an/a

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:

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