from TCEB - June 2, 2011 - Volume 17, Number 21
On May 26, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued guidance through Dear Colleague Letters to elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education along with a Frequently Asked Questions document on the legal obligation to provide students with disabilities an equal opportunity to enjoy the benefits of technology. This guidance is a critical step in the Department's ongoing efforts to ensure that students with disabilities receive equal access to the educational benefits and services provided by their schools, colleges, and universities. All students, including those with disabilities, must have the tools needed to obtain a world-class education that prepares them for success in college and careers.
The guidance provides information to schools about their responsibilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The guidance supplements a June 2010 letter issued jointly by OCR and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The June letter explains that technological devices must be accessible to students with disabilities, including students who are blind or have low vision, unless the benefits of the technology are provided equally through other means. The new guidance highlights what educational institutions need to know and take into consideration in order to ensure that students with disabilities enjoy equal access when information and resources are provided through technology. More details are online.