Thursday, May 14, 2015

Justice Department Joins Suit Against Miami University of Ohio

Today Inside Higher Ed posted an article stating that DoJ has joined with a student in a suit against Miami University of Ohio claiming that the University selected software that was inaccessible to students with disabilities.

The interesting thing, in the article, is the list of software listed in the DoJ complaint.
The department’s proposed complaint lists a number of vendors whose software it found to be inaccessible. In addition to the university’s website, video platforms Vimeo and YouTube, and word processor Google Docs, the complaint also lists course work management software from LearnSmart, Pearson, Sapling, Turnitin, Vista Higher Learning and WebAssign. The companies have contracts with many colleges and universities, so it is unlikely that Miami is using products not broadly found in higher education.
What makes this list more interesting, is the fact that some of the software listed are widely used -- not just in higher education, as pointed out in the article, but also in K-12 institutions.

Since DoJ can't go after the software vendors directly, I think this listing is an attempt to get the institutions to pay more attention to the legal issues and take potential legal action into consideration when making purchasing decisions.

Note however that this suit has not yet been settled.  But, DoJ has a pretty good track record when it comes to winning these battles.