Settlement requires edX to supply features for those with disabilities

Federal review found online course site in violation of ADA

EdX has entered into a settlement with the Department of Justice over allegations that the online course provider was not fully accessible to people with disabilities, in violation of federal law.

The settlement comes during a separate, ongoing lawsuit between MIT and the National Association for the Deaf (NAD) over a lack of closed captioning in online course videos and educational materials. MIT is due to reply to the NAD’s complaint by May 11.

According to a press release from the Department of Justice, the settlement will require edX to make “significant modifications” to its website, mobile applications, and content management system.

In particular, the settlement will require edX to make its website “fully accessible” within 18 months of April 2, the date the settlement was reached. This will entail providing “accurate captioning for the deaf, oral navigation signals for the blind, and programming changes so those with dexterity disabilities can navigate content without struggling with a hand-operated mouse,” according to the release.

EdX will not have to make any changes to the content of courses offered through its platform, but will provide guidance to course creators on best practices for making fully accessible online content.

The settlement came after a compliance review undertaken by the Department of Justice found edX to be in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Specifically, edX was found to violate Title III of the ADA, which prohibits “public accommodations” — including privately owned places of education — from discriminating against people with disabilities or barring people with disabilities from full and equal enjoyment of the services they provide.

Notably, edX was considered to be a public accommodation despite having a purely online presence. Although the Justice Department said in a press release that it has “long considered Title III … to apply to online services,” edX general counsel Tena Herlihy noted a gap between existing accessibility laws and their application to emerging online technologies.

“The laws regarding website accessibility should be clear and uniformly applied,” Herlihy wrote in a statement. “While the law and policy catch up, we are very proud to be a leader in website accessibility for learners across the globe.”

“We are excited about where we are going,” Herlihy said.

Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX, echoed this sentiment. “Our vision — quality education for everyone, everywhere — can only be achieved when our site is accessible to all users, including people with disabilities.”

confused about 8 years ago

What distinguishes edX from Youtube? Is Youtube not allowed to post videos without captions?

Freedom about 8 years ago

Hahahaha the liberal "more government" people have not learned that the USG is a beast biting people's heads off.

Freedom about 8 years ago

1- Oh, and it sounds like you support denying disabled people an equal opportunity to educational materials. Don't say something stupid, you hater of men and women with disabilities, or I may need to report you to the Institute of Equality Officer and recommend you for expulsion from MIT!

anonymous about 8 years ago

I find this whole situation a bit ridiculous. Not for the reason that Ted Kaczynski here thinks, but just because accessibility is something that MIT already strives for, and which isn't even really that hard to implement. Good UI design already involves making it easily controlled by the keyboard, and you'd have to write a web page like a 14-year-old in 1994 to confuse a screen reader.

The only headache is with the tedium of going through and transcribing videos and adding closed captions, which seems like something you could hire undergrads to do for pretty cheap.

Why this came to a lawsuit is a mystery. I'd think that accessibility advocates could simply ask nicely and MIT would want to comply. That MIT seems to be fighting these lawsuits and Agarwal's statement at the end of the article don't fit together.

If there is someone at MIT who's fighting against this, I'd be interested to learn who it is. Not because it makes them a bad person, but because it makes them a bad UI designer.

Freedom about 8 years ago

4- You have been enfeebled by Communism. I look at you with a mixture of pity and contempt.

This has nothing to do with having a good UI, which universities can do without lawsuits, and everything to do with whether universities are free to distribute inexpensive MOOCs. At least you understood that your position doesn't add up.

Note that nearly everyone in the establishment will be -against- inexpensive MOOCs. This is because the leftist establishment is based around sending suckers to college, taking their money, giving them a rubber stamp and trying to turn them as leftist as possible during the stay.

For instance, the reason we have Civil Rights laws is so that employers cannot design their own procedures to select employees. In the US you are required to choose people based on their education, otherwise you will get an anti-discrimination lawsuit sent your way (lawsuits will be, for example, why did you not hire these women/blacks with an affirmative action Harvard education?). This makes it necessary for people to waste their years in college if they want a job, where they will typically engage in immoral behavior and get lazier and dumber.

Or another example: if you were to say something right-wing in an elite institution, you will be denied a professorship. Examples include supporting torture or saying something that goes against the blank slate model (which is bunk). So university employees are forced to be secular progressive preachers.

To summarize, education is the religious church of the establishment. Plebians who go through the educational system must come out as slaves who believe the official religion (feminism, Communism, socialism, Marxism).

The idea behind these new rules is to keep education expensive and laden with regulations, to give the bureaucratic beasts more power to operate, so they can cut off people's heads when necessary. Additionally, the idea is to keep power concentrated within universities, to preserve the integrity of the progressive church.

Forgive me for telling you the truth, fellow slave.

Socialist Worker about 8 years ago

My guess is that Freedom is male and from either Eastern Europe or the former Soviet Union. He sees a communist plot behind every good thing that happens.

I am sure he would find in Senator Joe McCarthy an ally in the witch hunt for Reds in Hollywood, Academia, the US State department and US Armed forces.

Stalin himself was also a witch hunter. He saw Trotskyites and Fascists all around him and had numerous show trials and purges underway since 1928 until his death.

One of his last acts was seeing the enemy in Jewish Doctors, the Doctor's plot. Ironically he is said to have fallen off his couch and died on the floor of his dacha without a physician being called.

I suppose if a Doctor had been called and the Great Leader survived it would have confirmed his theory. The Doctors would have saved him in an effort to derail their purge and his body guards who allowed this to happen were in the pay of Washington.

Freedom about 8 years ago

Socialist Worker, it's become obvious that Senator McCarthy didn't go far enough. The US has flipped red. This is why the median wage hasn't improved since the 70s despite dramatic technological progress. This is why debt has ballooned: you can't do anything because the federal government and the media has its hands in everything.

You are wrong that I'm from Eastern Europe, but good guess. There are plenty of Americans with a right-wing ideology. These Americans tend to be male (since females are herd animals), highly intelligent (since otherwise you are too dumb to understand the Communist media is lying), physically healthy (since otherwise you adopt the mindset of a slave), incorruptible and family oriented. There are indeed a greater number of Eastern Europeans who think like me, because once you see your town and your family members bulldozed by populist Communists, you realize that Communists don't play fair and that you can't give them one inch. (Right-wingers in the US bend over backwards to Communists-- a constant process of appeasement-- because right-wingers wrongly think Communists share the right-wing values of honesty and loyalty. They do not, and must be treated as dangerous enemies.)

If you think that the government banning free educational videos is a "good thing" you are either some Luddite eunuch, a self-righteous parasite, a government bureaucrat, a journalist, an economist or simply messed up in the head. Actually, maybe you are most of these. A typical Communist; smart enough to talk, but not intelligent enough to understand.

If you think I support Stalin you are mistaken. I support a limited government that sees politicians and journalists for what they are: a fifth column in this country. Physical removal of them will be necessary in the future.

Freedom about 8 years ago

Oh, and I see what Stalin was thinking re:Jewish doctors. Doctors have been criminal in the past, increasing death rates, subjecting people to all sorts of treatments that make stuff worse and purging those who truthfully point out that they're killing people. Read up on Ignaz Semmelweis, who was killed after being put in prison and beaten by guards for pointing out the truth about a certain medical technique. (It's kind of like what's happening today, just replace "doctors" with "journalists.")

For this reason, Obamacare is criminal legislation and the politicians who supported it deserve jail-time and probably the chair.

The funny thing is even though Stalin was a horrible Communist, the West seems to be in a competition to try to find someone worse than him, and some of his economic plans (extremely Communist by historical standards) are more fiscally conservative than would be acceptable today.

The West is heading for something worse than Communist Russia. Have fun guys.