Thursday, February 12, 2015

Harvard and MIT are sued because their MOOCs are not accessible

It was going to happen, the question was when?

National Federation for the Blind,(NFB) in conjunction with some other advocacy groups has gone after the MOOCs.

"Much of Harvard's online content is either not captioned or is inaccurately or unintelligible captioned, making it inaccessible for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing."  the complaint says.

A spokes person for Harvard says that Harvard expected the Department of Justice (DoJ) to provide "much needed guidance" on the issue this year.  I think that's initial excuse for why they aren't yet in compliance.  I don't know if he realizes that this case will become the "much needed guidance."

I expect DoJ will join with NFB on this.

This will be fun to watch.

I think the suit is using ADA because many of the courses don't carry credit and are outside an education program, so may not be covered by Section 504.  Dealing with this as an ADA issue also brings in DoJ and they have bigger sticks than OCR would under Section 504.

NFB has won suits against Netflix to require captioning of all videos in their service.  They also won on accessibility of H&R Block's website.  And of course, they won against Penn State.  I don't think they'll loose this.

Links to news coverage:

New York Times

PR Newswire from National Federation of the Deaf -- one of the other complainants.


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