Louisiana Tech University settles with Feds over inaccessible course materials
Americas, July 24 2013
The Justice Department announced yesterday that it has reached a settlement with Louisiana Tech University and the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System to remedy alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The settlement resolves allegations that the University violated the ADA by using a version of an online learning product that was inaccessible to a student with vision disability. The student’s lack of access to the course materials persisted nearly one month into the University quarter, at which point the student was so far behind in his coursework that he felt compelled to withdraw from the course. The settlement also resolves allegations that in a subsequent course, the same student was not provided accessible course materials for in-class discussion or exam preparation in a timely manner.
Under the settlement agreement, the university will adopt a number of disability-related policies, including the requirement to deploy learning technology, web pages and course content that is accessible in accordance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA standard in the university setting. The university will also make existing web pages and materials created since 2010 accessible. The agreement also requires the university to train its instructors and administrators on the requirements of the ADA, and secured a total of $23,543 in damages for the student from the university and the Board.
“Emerging technologies, including internet-based learning platforms, are changing the way we learn, and we need to ensure that people with disabilities are not excluded or left behind,” said Eve L. Hill, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
“This a positive move by Louisiana Tech University and the Board of Supervisors. Their efforts reflect a commitment to ensuring that all individuals with disabilities have full access to the University,” said Stephanie A. Finley, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana.
The ADA protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in the services, programs or activities of state and local government entities. Under Title II of the ADA, state and local governments must afford individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in or benefit from aids, benefits or services provided. For more information about the ADA, call the Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or access the ADA website at www.ada.gov.