Not long ago, there was a brief shutdown of the U.S. Department of Education’s idea.ed.gov website. Since then, the Department has restored the website and has posted a notice seeking public comment on how to improve the site.
NCLD shared our thoughts on how to improve website, including making it serve as a centralized hub of information on IDEA, making it more accessible, and by aligning it with other existing initiatives across the Department. You can find our full comments below.
We encourage others to share their thoughts directly with the Department and let them know how you use the website and what could be done to make it more useful to you.
To Whom It May Concern:
The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) appreciates the opportunity to provide input on how the IDEA.ed.gov website can be updated to better support children with disabilities and their families, teachers, administrators, advocates, and other stakeholders. NCLD works on behalf of the 1 in 5 children with learning attention issues and their families.
The idea.ed.gov website has often served as a resource to our parents, educators, and advocacy community. While our comments will focus on how to improve idea.ed.gov, we urge the Department to consider how to align and streamline all of its online resources so that parents, educators, and the public can easily access information about laws impacting students with disabilities. This transparency is vital to upholding the mission and vision of IDEA.
(1) Serve as IDEA Information Hub
It is important for parents and educators to have easy to access information related to IDEA. One of the benefits of idea.ed.gov has been the ability to simultaneously search for key terms in the IDEA law and regulations. To build upon this functionality, the Department should consider cross referencing the following resources on the idea.ed.gov website: (1) relevant guidance, (2) Dear Colleague letters, (3) links to technical assistance & dissemination centers, (4) related IES research; (5) related information collected from the Office of Civil Rights, including findings from the Civil Rights Data Collect; and (6) links to any other relevant information. By creating a central place that stores information relevant to IDEA and by making this information searchable and accessible, the public will have the opportunity to better understand the law and its implications for children and youth.
Translation of the idea.ed.gov website into Spanish and other languages is critical to reach the maximum number of families as possible. Additionally, USED should ensure that the content is available in read-aloud mode and is fully compatible with other assistive technology and is in compliance with the latest web accessibility standards.
(3) Streamline & align with other federal initiatives for maximum transparency
Historically, the Department has provided public access to many informational resources related to IDEA. Making this information publicly available is critical to high quality implementation of IDEA. In rethinking idea.ed.gov, we encourage the Department to take a critical look at how to reorganize existing resources can improve public access. For example, the Civil Rights Data Collection and findings has information that is likely relevant for audiences interested in accessing idea.ed.gov, and should be cross-referenced. The public would greatly benefit from an IDEA related website that allows users to search for a key word to access information generated from across the Department and its funded centers.
In closing, we appreciate the opportunity to share our views of how to improve the idea.ed.gov website. Again, we strongly encourage the Department to consider how the redesign of the idea.ed.gov website can complement, align and streamline other initiatives. Most importantly, we urge the Department to maintain transparency, quality, and timeliness in the information it provides to the public.
Lindsay E. Jones, Esq.
Vice President, Chief Policy & Advocacy Officer
National Center for Learning Disabilities