- The College of California, Berkeley has entered into an settlement with the U.S. Division of Justice to make its free on-line content material accessible to individuals with listening to, visible and guide disabilities, the company introduced Monday.
- The proposed consent decree would settle allegations that UC Berkeley violated the People with Disabilities Act by making its free on-line content material inaccessible to individuals with disabilities. That features its content material on YouTube, Apple Podcasts and UC BerkeleyX platform, which affords dozens of MOOCs.
- The settlement is pending court docket approval. If greenlit, UC Berkeley will make all future content material and the “overwhelming majority” of its present content material accessible. The college can even rent an online accessibility coordinator and practice related staff on accessibility.
Though the settlement solely impacts one college, it might sign that the Justice Division will likely be holding an in depth eye on whether or not greater schooling establishments are offering accessible content material.
Inaccessibility points are widespread at UC Berkeley, in keeping with the lawsuit. As an example, a lot of its on-line content material — resembling its YouTube movies — are routinely captioned, resulting in captions which have improper grammar and captions which might be generally inconceivable to grasp, in keeping with the Justice Division’s criticism. That may make content material inaccessible to individuals with listening to disabilities who depend on written captions.
The college’s visible on-line content material usually doesn’t embody different textual content or audio descriptions, rendering it inaccessible to individuals with imaginative and prescient disabilities. And a few of its content material contains hyperlinks that aren’t accessible by keyboard, making it exhausting for individuals who depend on display screen readers to navigate the establishment’s web site.
UC Berkeley has its work reduce out to make present on-line content material accessible.
In 2021, an investigation into 10 of UC Berkeley’s MOOCs discovered they weren’t accessible to individuals with numerous disabilities. That very same yr, the investigation additionally discovered greater than 20,000 of the college’s YouTube movies lack captions or are routinely captioned, and that the overwhelming majority of its content material on Apple Podcasts don’t supply different codecs, resembling transcripts.
Beneath the settlement, UC Berkeley could have 3 1/2 years to make modifications. That may embody revising its accessibility insurance policies and hiring an unbiased auditor to find out whether or not its content material is accessible.
“By coming into into this consent decree, UC Berkeley will make its content material accessible to the many individuals with disabilities who wish to take part in and entry the identical on-line academic alternatives offered to individuals with out disabilities,” Kristen Clarke, an assistant lawyer common within the Justice Division’s civil rights division, mentioned in an announcement.
UC Berkeley didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.