Justice Department Secures Agreement with UC to Make Content Accessible to People with Disabilities
The University of California Regents is accused of violating Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to the Justice Department, which today stated that it has filed a proposed consent decree in federal court to resolve the matter. It is claimed that many of UC Berkeley’s free online resources are inaccessible to people who have hearing, vision, or physical impairments. The complaint including the discriminatory claims was filed alongside the proposed consent decree.
According to Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, “UC Berkeley will make its content accessible to the many people with disabilities who want to participate in and access the same online educational opportunities provided to people without disabilities by entering into this consent decree.” The various free online courses, conferences, lectures, performances, and other programmes provided by UC Berkeley and its professors will now be accessible to people with disabilities, giving millions of people opportunities for lifelong learning.
On its websites and other online venues, such as its YouTube and Apple Podcasts accounts, UC Berkeley gives the public access to conferences, lectures, sporting events, commencement ceremonies, and other university events. Additionally, it offers courses through its UC BerkeleyX platform. Due to the absence of alternative language describing visual pictures for the blind and captions and transcripts for the deaf, a large portion of this online information is inaccessible to people with disabilities. Additionally, the format prevents people with impairments from accessing the content using screen readers or other assistive technology.
UC Berkeley is required to make all upcoming and the vast majority of its current online content accessible to individuals with disabilities under the three-and-a-half-year consent decree, which needs court approval. Berkeley classes, university websites, and video and audio content on its YouTube, Apple Podcasts, and other third-party platforms are all included in this. Additionally, UC Berkeley will update its procedures, provide necessary training to staff members, appoint a coordinator for web accessibility, test the accessibility of its online content, and hire an outside auditor to assess the accessibility of its materials.
According to U.S. Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds for the Northern District of California, “Through this consent decree, the Department of Justice demonstrates its commitment to ensuring compliance with the ADA by providing individuals with disabilities a full and equal opportunity to participate in and enjoy the benefits of UC Berkeley’s services, programmes, and activities in equal measure with people without disabilities.”