The Justice Department announced today that it has filed a proposed consent order in federal court to resolve allegations that the University of California Regents, on behalf of the University of California, Berkeley (collectively, UC Berkeley), violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because much of UC Berkeley’s free online content is not accessible to those with hearing, visual, and hand disabilities. The proposed consent order was filed with a complaint setting out allegations of discrimination.
“By completing this Consent Decree, UC Berkeley will make its content available to many people with disabilities who want to participate in and access the same online educational opportunities that are available to people without disabilities,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division . “This decree will allow people with disabilities to access the many free online courses, conferences, lectures, performances and other programs offered by UC Berkeley and its faculty, and provide lifelong learning opportunities for millions of people.”
UC Berkeley makes conferences, lectures, sporting events, graduations, and other university events publicly available on its websites and other online platforms, including its YouTube and Apple Podcast channels. It also makes courses available on its UC BerkeleyX platform. Much of this online content is inaccessible to people with disabilities due to a lack of captions and transcripts for deaf people and alternative text to describe visual images for blind people. It is also formatted so that people with disabilities cannot access the content with screen readers or other assistive technologies.
Under the consent decree, which will last three and a half years and is subject to court approval, UC Berkeley will all future and the vast majority of its…