Accessibility Tip of the Week: Ensuring Sufficient Contrast

Colorful umbrella

This week Robert Hardy, our district website accessibility specialist, shares about how to ensure your content has a sufficiently high contrast ratio. Please call Robert with any accessibility questions at Ext. 6105. He is more than happy to talk by phone or schedule a time to meet with you.

When designing content, it is important to consider the perceived contrast of text or graphical elements against their background.  Text with a low contrast ratio can be difficult to read and may cause issues with eye strain or reader fatigue.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), defines a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for regular text, and 3:1 for large text. For most textual content, black or dark gray text on a white background has a sufficiently high contrast ratio. For instance, the text within this blog has a ratio of 11:1, far surpassing the minimum threshold.

Care should be taken when changing font colors. Here are some examples of text color combinations and their ratios against a white background:

  • Low contrast gray text Ratio: 1.3:1
  • Sufficient contrast gray text Ratio: 4.6:1
  • Low contrast blue text Ratio: 1.9:1
  • Sufficient contrast blue text Ratio: 6.1:1
  • Sufficient contrast red text Ratio: 5.6:1

Additional care should be taken when altering background colors. Generally, including a background of the same color type will create contrast issues and should be avoided. Here are some examples of low contrast content using the sufficiently contrasted colors from above:

  • Low contrast gray text on a gray background text Ratio: 2.1:1
  • Low contrast blue text on blue background Ratio: 2.6:1
  • Low contrast red text on red background Ratio: 1.5:1

When designing graphical content, such as flyers or website layouts, it can be challenging to ensure sufficient contrast when placing text over an image. To do so, you can use design elements such as text shadows or text outlines, as we have done on our district page.

White text over an image on the OSD website. The text has a gray outline applied to it, ensuring readability.

By including a text outline, we are able to display white text over a complex, and occasionally white background.

Low contrast text is generally apparent to a content author, but these tools can help to check the contrast ratios of your content:

  • Colour Contrast Analyser – Works for both Mac and Windows and can check contrast across multiple applications.
  • Color Contrast Analyzer – Google Chrome extension that visually displays the perceived contrast of content. Useful for designing web content.

If you have questions about using these tools or ensuring the contrast of your content is sufficient, please feel free to reach out to Robert Hardy (6105), the district’s Website Accessibility Specialist.

SEBB benefit information update

stethoscope with red heartTwo more SEBB benefit meetings available

The district will have two more SEBB benefit meetings. OSD Payroll and Benefits Specialist Amy McGuire will go over the changes and benefits with SEBB and will answer all your questions. If you were not able to attend one at your school and would like to attend, please join us at one of the days below.

Tuesday, October 15, 4:30 p.m.; Knox 111 Administrative Center
Thursday, October 17, 4:30 p.m; Knox 111 Administrative Center

Enrolling dependents and dependent verification

If you are enrolling dependents in your medical, vision and/or dental plans, you are required to provide proof of your dependent’s eligibility with a document that shows they are dependents. All dependents must be verified during the SEBB Program’s first annual open enrollment (October 1 through November 15, 2019), before they can be enrolled under your coverage, even if you have already verified their eligibility with your employer.

You can upload dependent verification documents in SEBB my Account, or provide documents directly to your payroll office.

Once you have uploaded your documents, please check SEBB my Account to ensure they have been accepted.

Need more information to make an informed decision?

Visit the virtual benefits fair to learn more about each of the plans offered.  You can also access ALEX, the online interactive benefits advisor. ALEX will help you understand your benefits and guide you through choosing your medical, dental and vision plans or suggest plans for you to consider.

We have received many questions regarding Providence Health and Premera, please see the letter from Providence.

What if I’m eligible for SEBB benefits both as an employee and as a dependent?

You cannot enroll in two SEBB accounts at the same time. If you are an eligible employee and are also eligible as a dependent under your spouse’s, state-registered domestic partner’s, or parent’s account, you may choose one of these options:

  • Waive your enrollment in SEBB medical and be enrolled in medical under your spouse’s, state-registered domestic partner’s, or parent’s SEBB account. You must still enroll in dental, vision, basic life insurance and AD&D insurance, and basic LTD insurance under your own account.
  • Enroll in medical under your own SEBB account.

Dual enrollment is not allowed under the SEBB rules for you, your spouse or dependents. However one of you can waive your medical coverage and enroll on the other’s account.  Doing that does not incur the spouse or state-registered domestic partner coverage surcharge.


SEBB update: Mini benefit fairs scheduled October 9, 15 and 17 at Knox 111

desk-doctor-health-48604Early last week, the Communications and Community Relations department sent an email to all OSD employees titled “SEBB Open Enrollment begins today.” Below is a reprint of that email, which contains important information about open enrollment.

In addition, please note that three mini-benefit fairs have been scheduled at Knox 111 Administrative Center. The benefit fairs will be held at 4:30 p.m. on October 9 in Room 202, and on October 15 and 17 in the Board Room.

Following is the reprint of an email sent to all OSD employees on October 1, 2019:

The SEBB Program first annual open enrollment begins today.

  • SEBB My Account is ready for you to create your login and enroll in benefits.
  • Use SEBB My Account to:
    • Elect your medical, dental and vision plans
    • Enroll your eligible dependents
    • Submit documents to prove your dependent’s eligibility
    • Submit attestations
    • Enroll in supplemental long-term disability
  • Use Navia Benefits Solutions to enroll in the medical flexible spending arrangement and/or the dependent care assistance program*.
  • Use the MetLife portal to elect supplemental life insurance and supplemental accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance for yourself and your family members.

*Note: If you are unable to access Navia Benefit Solutions and MetLife’s portal, it may mean your eligibility for benefits was uploaded after September 26. Contact your payroll or benefits office to verify that is the reason.

Need more information before you make a decision?

You must take action to enroll. If you do not enroll in, or waive benefits by 11:59 p.m. on November 15, 2019, you will be defaulted into the UMP Achieve 1 medical plan (with a $33 monthly premium), Uniform Dental Plan, MetLife vision plan, and basic life, basic AD&D, and basic LTD as a single subscriber. Your dependents will not be enrolled. You will also pay the $25-per-account tobacco use premium surcharge in addition to your monthly medical premium.

For SEBB questions, please email

Congratulations to our newest Everyday Hero

Everyday Heroes Logo with the words: Celebrating OSD EmployeesEveryday Heroes is a regular feature in this staff blog. Remember to submit names of employees districtwide who have done something deserving of encouragement and praise. Give a shout out to one of your colleagues at your school or support building and watch for it to appear in an upcoming Everyday Heroes blog post.

Here is our newest honoree:

Everyday Hero
Nancy Swanson, Bilingual Family Engagement Specialist, Roosevelt Elementary School

One of my students was selected by her peers and was being awarded for being “Compassionate and Kind” at a recognition assembly at our school (Hansen Elementary). This student lives with her Grandparents and they speak Vietnamese. I wanted to reach out to them to let them know they could attend; but, I didn’t know how to communicate that to them as I didn’t want the student to know she was receiving the award and I didn’t have an email for them, only a phone number.

Our secretary gave me Nancy’s information and I emailed her (on short notice the day before the assembly) to see how I could reach out. She responded promptly and clarified options with me. By the morning, she replied and said that someone called her grandparents and the message was delivered.

Seeing her grandparents at the recognition assembly was very touching. They were so excited to see her and enjoy this recognition with her as she is an amazing person. I am so grateful for Nancy’s prompt response and her ability to contact the right people to help us connect with families. I was so grateful to see them there and am grateful for this resource.

Submitted by Melissa Cleveringa, Teacher, Hansen Elementary School

How to nominate an Everyday Hero

  • Email the Communications and Community Relations Department ( a few sentences, and no more than 200 words, about why the person deserves recognition. It’s easiest to write as if speaking directly to the colleague, such as “Thank you for helping with…” or “I really appreciated when you…”
  • Write “Everyday Heroes” in the subject heading of the email.
  • Include your first and last name as the person submitting the comments.
  • Include the first and last name of the OSD employee you are recognizing.
  • Include the job title and work location (school or department) of the person you are recognizing.

All submissions will be posted in this blog on a weekly basis and archived each week.

Flu shot clinics set for October 16 and 17

Bandaid with heading Flu Shot ClinicThe Olympia School District is committed to helping keep students, staff, parents/guardians and community members healthy throughout the flu season.

The district has partnered with the Seattle Visiting Nurse Association (SVNA) to provide flu shot clinics.

Clinic Dates and Locations:

  • Wednesday, Oct. 16 – Olympia High School, 2:30-6 p.m.
  • Thursday, Oct. 17 – Capital High School, 2:30-6 p.m.

The clinics are open to all OSD staff, students, families (children must be four years of age or older) and community members.

As a reminder, everyone will need to complete a Patient Consent form which includes their name, address, date of birth, name of insurance carrier and individual insurance subscriber number. Please remember to bring your insurance card. This information is required in order to process the billing.

Uninsured participants will pay for their own flu shots. The $40.00 fee for the standard Quadrivalent flu shot, cash or check only, will be collected at the clinic at the time the shot is given.

For more information please contact Ken Turcotte, executive director of student support, at (360) 596-7530 or

October is Walk to School Month

Garfield Elementary Principal and Students who participated in WalkNRollThe Olympia School District has proclaimed October 2019 as Walk to School Month.

Superintendent Patrick Murphy read the proclamation during the September 23  school board meeting. It states in part that in October, “children, parents and community leaders from around the world will join together for Walk to School events to increase awareness about the health and environmental benefits of walking and biking to school.”

The proclamation also states that “parents, school employees and community leaders can make a lasting impression among our community’s youth by modeling fun, safe and healthy behavior by accompanying students on Walk to School events.” The Olympia City Council approved a similar Walk to School Month proclamation on September 24.

When safe walking is available, students are encouraged to walk or ride bikes to school to improve their health, increase readiness to learn and learn about pedestrian safety.

Several schools have committed this year to participate in Intercity Transit’s Walk N Roll to School Days. Hansen Elementary kicked off the first Walk N Roll event on September 11. Students at Pioneer, Garfield, Centennial, McKenny and Roosevelt will join Hansen on October 9 to walk to school on National Walk to School Day, followed by walks each month throughout the school year.

National Walk to School Day is a global event celebrated every October with more than 40 countries walking and biking to school on the same day.

We also want to remind motorists to slow down and observe the speed limit when driving in and around our schools. Thank you!

Student Outcome posters available to post in classrooms and support buildings

OSD Student Outcomes Poster listing six outcomes detailed on district website linked from article

During the school district’s Welcome Back event in early September, the Communications and Community Relations department handed out 11 x 17 posters outlining the board-approved Student Outcomes.

Extra copies of the poster are available for employees who did not receive one already to post in their classroom or other workspace. If interested in receiving a poster (please note supplies are limited), email

To see the Student Outcome Indicators for each of the outcomes listed in the corresponding photo, and to learn more about the Strategic Planning process, visit the district website Strategic Planning webpage.

Register for social media workshop October 17

Graphic titled Olympia School District SoIs your school officially represented on social media? If not, let’s fix that!

In the ever-changing world of social media, it can be daunting when considering what social media platforms to choose to best reach your families. Don’t be dismayed, it’s really quite simple and unquestionably worth your time and effort.

Give us an hour of your time and come sit down as we delve into the following “Social Media Tips” when managing a school or district-related social media account:

  • Why do we need to promote our school? We’re doing fine!
  • Getting approval from your Administrator
  • How to select the social media platform to best reach your audience
  • Setting up your accounts (using district email)
  • Checking student permissions (when publishing students names/photos)
  • How to best promote your new social media account
  • Frequency of posting: Creating a social media calendar
  • Creating engagement: Like, Follow and Share
  • How to produce consistent, easily digestible content
  • Finding your “voice” and “tone”

Our hope is that by the time this workshop wraps up you will feel much more comfortable opening up a social media account that represents your school community. This includes accounts for a school, athletic team, club, program or classroom. You will be amazed at the number of families you reach that were not previously reached through your school website (or teacher page), robocalls, newsletters, email and flyers.

With a consistent posting schedule, your engagement will soar. You will have a brand new way to communicate with students, families and our community which prioritizes content pushed out through social media. There are so many great stories to tell throughout our district, don’t be afraid of using this unique outlet to bring yours to the forefront!

Please note that the workshop will be held at the new district office: Knox 111 Administrative Center, 111 Bethel Street NE, Olympia, WA 98506. The workshop will be held Thursday, October 17 from 4-5 p.m. and will be in the Computer Lab, Room 268.

Register for this workshop in pdEnroller.

Capital High School Theatre presents ‘Radium Girls’

Radium Girls theatre production poster including title of play, dates, time and cost, all included in article“Radium Girls,” presented by Capital High School Theatre, takes the stage this month.

In the early 1900s, radium is the new “miracle” material, used as a glow-in-the-dark paint for wartime watches. Painting these watch dials was the ideal job until the workers became ill.

Watch the story of Grace and her coworkers unfold as they struggle for workplace safety. This play by D.W. Gregory explores the complexities of fighting for workplace safety and a corporate leader’s desire to keep his company alive.

Performances will be held October 10, 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19. All performances begin at 7 p.m. and will be held in the Performing Arts Auditorium at Capital High School, 2707 Conger Ave. N.W.

Tickets are $10 for general admission and $8 for students and seniors. Questions? Contact the box office at (360) 596-8053.

Note deadlines for Travel Expense Reimbursement submissions



The following is a message from the Business Department about Travel Expense Reimbursement submission.

Per OSD Travel Expense Reimbursement procedures, submittals must be turned in within 60 days post travel.  This ensures that budget managers know how much budget capacity they have remaining because payments of past activity are being taken out of accounts within a predictable time period.  Below is a chart of cut off for submission dates:

Travel within the month of: September 2019
Deadline to Submit a Request: November 30, 2019

Travel within the month of: October 2019
Deadline to Submit a Request: December 31, 2019

Travel within the month of: November 2019
Deadline to Submit a Request: January 31, 2020

Travel within the month of: December 2019
Deadline to Submit a Request: February 29, 2020

Travel within the month of: January 2020
Deadline to Submit a Request: March 31, 2020

Travel within the month of: February 2020
Deadline to Submit a Request: April 30, 2020

Travel within the month of: March 2020
Deadline to Submit a Request: May 31, 2020

Travel within the month of: April 2020
Deadline to Submit a Request: June 30, 2020

Travel within the month of: May 2020
Deadline to Submit a Request: July 31, 2020

Travel within the month of: June 2020
Deadline to Submit a Request: August 31, 2020

Travel within the month of: July 2020
Deadline to Submit a Request: August 31, 2020

Travel within the month of: August 2020
Deadline to Submit a Request: August 31, 2020