The U.S. Justice Department has filed a proposed consent decree in federal court to resolve allegations that University of California, Berkeley, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The allegations of violating Title II of the ADA stem from how much of the school’s free online content is inaccessible to those with hearing, vision, and manual disabilities. The school makes many events publicly available online and makes courses available on its UC BerkeleyX platform. However, much of the content is not accessible to people with disabilities, due to lack of captions and transcripts for individuals who are deaf; lack of alternative text describing visual images for individuals who are blind; and formatting that does not allow those with disabilities to access the content using screen readers or other assistive technology.
The decree will require UC Berkeley to make all future and most existing online content accessible to people with disabilities, revise policies, train personnel, designate a web accessibility coordinator, conduct accessibility testing of online content, and hire an independent auditor to evaluate content accessibility.
“By entering into this consent decree, 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,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This decree will provide people with disabilities access to the numerous free online courses, conferences, lectures, performances and other programming offered by UC Berkeley and its faculty, providing lifelong learning opportunities to millions of people.”
The three-and-a-half-year long consent decree – it needs court approval – was filed with a complaint with allegations of discrimination.