Quick guide to digitizing liability waivers in education

How to create a seamless, secure signing process for waivers and release of liability forms

Close up photo of someone signing a document on their phone.

Creating a seamless, secure signing process for waivers and release of liability forms

Some school activities come with a risk of physical injury or property damage. Many schools use liability waivers to help ensure that participants are aware of and accepting of these risks for scenarios like sports events, field trips, off-campus social activities, or travel.

Digitizing liability waivers and enabling electronic signatures is a great way to manage these forms. Going paperless makes it faster and easier to distribute them, reduces the effort required to track the status for each participant, and increases participation and compliance.

Why should you digitize liability waivers?

Sending paper liability waivers home with students results in a lot of lost and incomplete forms. Securely delivering waivers directly to students and parents via email or an online portal enhances the flow of information and improves completion rates. Digital forms also reduce the amount of time spent distributing, tracking, reminding, copying, and storing these critical documents.

Improve completion and participation

Digital liability waivers can increase completion and participation rates in several different ways:

Reduce time spent

Electronic document tools also make it faster and easier to manage the entire process:

Step-by-step guide to paperless electronic waivers

Creating and using electronic liability waivers has two main components: building the form and sending it for signatures. Your school board, state education department, or insurer probably has a template you can use. Laws regulating liability waivers vary depending on location and use case. You should make sure that the form you use is one that fits your specific use case and has been reviewed by a lawyer.

Build the form

Identify required information
In most cases waivers require clear information about the activity and the risks involved, in clear language that the participants can understand. You may also need to include fields such as the date and location of the activity, identifying information for the student, and space for the signature and date.

Create a digital form
You have some options here:

Set field validation rules
A range of field options helps reduce errors during form completion. Text entry, check boxes, radio buttons, drop down selections, initials, and signatures are just a few of the field types that make completing the form easier. You can also include default values, validation rules, and tips for the reader that provide additional guidance.

Identify required fields
To help get forms competed correctly the first time, you can identify which fields must be completed and which are optional. Unless the required fields have been completed, participants cannot sign or submit the form.

Save and publish
Finally, when the waiver is complete, you can ask others in the organization to review and comment online. When it is finished, send it for distribution — and consider introducing electronic signatures, which can save up to 1.5 hours per signature.

Send for signature

Select a digital signature tool
You need to select a signature tool, such as Adobe Sign, to enable electronic signatures on your waivers. Look for a tool that provides additional capabilities, such as digital workflows that help to speed up and automate the process.

Distribute the waiver
A wide range of applications are integrated with e-signature solutions, such as Microsoft 365, enabling you to send documents out for signing directly from applications you already use. Support for a variety of file formats and methods means that you can easily request signatures via email, post forms on your website, or use Adobe Document Cloud.

Manage dates and status
Using the digital signature workflows in Adobe Sign, you can get automatic notifications when waivers are viewed and signed and track the status of waivers on the management dashboard. You can also add completion dates and setup automatic reminders, so that you do not have to chase people who have not signed.

Store and reference completed forms, or collect in database
Finally, as forms are signed and returned as completed PDFs, you can store them in your preferred document management system or collect the responses in a spreadsheet or database for easy review and retrieval of key information.

A few closing thoughts

When you are creating or revising online liability waivers here are some other things to consider.

Visit Adobe to learn more about how their education-focused solutions can help you digitize liability waivers — as well as other forms like acceptable use policies and consent forms.