Skip to Content

Department of Ed Expands on Accessibility Issues in Ed Tech

To follow up on a 2010 reminder to colleges, universities, and K-12 school districts that their instructional technology adhere to accessibility laws, the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has issued a new frequently-asked questions document to address ongoing concerns regarding compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

That initial June 2010 letter, issued as “dear colleague” guidance, explained that devices used for educational purposes must be accessible to students with disabilities, unless the benefits of the technology are provided equally through other means. It was sent out after the U.S. Justice Department settled complaints with a number of institutions that were running pilot programs involving the Amazon Kindle book reader, which, at that time, wasn’t fully accessible by students who were blind or had low vision. Those device limitations have since been addressed by Amazon.

“We made it clear at that time that when institutions chose to provide such technology, they needed to do so in a way that ensured that students with disabilities could enjoy, use, benefit from those devices in a way that all students could,” explained Russlynn Ali, assistant secretary for civil rights in the Department of Education. “That got a lot of attention. Since then we’ve heard of other concerns that we didn’t address. And we wanted to issue this document to provide as much help as we could to institutions that were working to comply with the requirements of Section 504.”

Originally published by the Campus Technology. Continue reading on the Campus Technology website.