Department of Justice finds UC Berkeley must provide accessible online content.

In October 2014, CREEC, on behalf of the National Association of the Deaf, filed an administrative complaint with the Department of Justice (Department) against the University of California at Berkeley (Berkeley) based on alleged violations of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act through its failure to provide captioning of online courses and other educational content.  On August 30, 2016 the Department presented its findings and conclusions.

The investigation addressed Berkeley’s YouTube channel, iTunes U, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on the edX learning platform (UC BerkeleyX).  The Department conducted a wide-ranging review of the university’s online content.

The Department reviewed MOOCs through the UC BerkeleyX platform and determined that some videos were not captioned, documents were not formatted for those who use screen readers, and assorted other issues.  Upon a sampling of the YouTube platforms, the Department found a number of barriers to access, including for example automatically generated captions that were inaccurate and incomplete, did not provide non-visual description of the content, or were not contrasted properly for those with visual impairments.  Finally, the Department reviewed a sampling of Berkeley’s iTunes U platform and found that none of the videos reviewed were closed captioned, and none provided an alternative format to the visual information contained into the videos.

The Department concluded that Berkeley has violated accessibility requirements.  Specifically, the Department found that Berkeley “is in violation of title II because significant portions of its online content are not provided in an accessible manner when necessary to ensure effective communication with individuals with hearing, vision or manual disabilities.   In addition, Berkeley’s administrative methods have not ensured that individuals with disabilities have an equal opportunity to use Berkeley’s online content.”  Along with its findings, the Department presented a list of six remedial measures that Berkeley must take to ensure accessibility in the future.

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