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Electronic Curb Cuts: Legal Requirements for Accessible Distance Education. Curtis D. Edmonds, J.D., Education and Technology Specialist Southeast Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center Georgia Tech Research in Accessible Distance Education (GRADE)

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electronic curb cuts legal requirements for accessible distance education
Electronic Curb Cuts: Legal Requirements for Accessible Distance Education

Curtis D. Edmonds, J.D., Education and Technology Specialist

Southeast Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center

Georgia Tech Research in Accessible Distance Education (GRADE)

Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access

Georgia Institute of Technology

contact us
Contact Us
  • http://www.catea.org/grade/
  • http://www.accesselearning.net/
  • http://www.sedbtac.org/
  • curtis.edmonds@catea.org
  • (404) 385-4033
synopsis1
Synopsis
  • Online distance education is becoming increasingly prevalent, but many students with disabilities experience barriers to online education.
synopsis2
Synopsis
  • Many stakeholders are aware of potential electronic barriers to access, but do not know the extent of their legal responsibilities to provide access for students with disabilities.
synopsis3
Synopsis
  • The laws in this area, many of which were written before information technology was widespread, tend to be vague and confusing.
synopsis4
Synopsis
  • As a result, very few online distance education courses have been designed to accommodate the needs of students with disabilities.
synopsis5
Synopsis
  • This limits the courses available to students with disabilities, and impacts the quality of overall learning.
the scope of the problem1
The Scope of the Problem
  • A recent U.S. Department of Education survey charted the growth of distance education in both two-year and four-year institutions.
  • http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2003/2003017.pdf
the scope of the problem2
The Scope of the Problem
  • Forty-five percent of 2- and 4-year institutions that offered distance education courses in 2000-2001 had occasionally received requests in the last 3 years to provide accommodations for students with disabilities in distance education courses.
the scope of the problem3
The Scope of the Problem
  • Thirty-seven percent reported never receiving this type of request in the last 3 years.
  • 15 percent did not know if they had received requests for accommodations.
the americans with disabilities act
The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to “public entities”, including public colleges and universities.
the americans with disabilities act1
The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Title II requires:
    • Reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures
    • Unless the modifications would “fundamentally alter” the nature of the services
    • “Effective communication”
the americans with disabilities act2
The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Title III of the ADA applies to “places of public accommodation,” including private colleges and universities,
the americans with disabilities act3
The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Title III provides that:
    • No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in public accommodations
    • “Effective communication”
the americans with disabilities act4
The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Both the Title II and Title III regulations require that communication with people with disabilities be as effective as communication with others.
the americans with disabilities act5
The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • The ADA was passed in 1990, well before the Internet was in widespread use.
the americans with disabilities act6
The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • A Department of Justice letter opinion states that:
    • “Effective communication” requirement applies to the Internet.
    • Covered entities that use the Internet must be prepared to offer those communications through accessible means.
the americans with disabilities act7
The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Two federal courts have issued different interpretations of the ADA.
the americans with disabilities act8
The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • In a case against the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) alleging multiple ADA violations, a federal district court judge found that the MARTA website was inaccessible to people with disabilities and that the system violated a provision of Title II of the ADA requiring that transit agencies make information available in accessible formats.
the americans with disabilities act9
The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • However, another federal court dismissed a Title III challenge against an inaccessible airline website on the grounds that the website was not a place of public accommodation.
section 508 of the rehabilitation act
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • In response to concerns about accessibility of federal government websites, the U.S. Congress passed new amendments to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
  • These amendments were passed in 1998 and took effect in 2000.
section 508 of the rehabilitation act1
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • Section 508 requires that Federal departments or agencies must provide technology accommodations to their employees with disabilities.
section 508 of the rehabilitation act2
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • Section 508 requires:
    • Procurement of accessible IT
    • Design of accessible federal websites
section 508 of the rehabilitation act3
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • By its terms, Section 508 only applies to programs and services of the federal government.
section 508 of the rehabilitation act4
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • However, officials at the U.S. Department of Education authored a letter in 1999 indicating that they interpreted Section 508 to have application to state entities, including some public colleges and universities.
section 508 of the rehabilitation act5
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • This administrative interpretation has not yet been adopted by a federal court. However, colleges and universities may choose to adopt Section 508 as part of their Internet access policies.
section 508 of the rehabilitation act6
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • For example, the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UWM) adopted Section 508 as part of its web accessibility standards, both for newly designed pages and “legacy” pages designed before 2001.
section 508 of the rehabilitation act7
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • There are no standards under the ADA for Internet accessibility, but universities like UWM that adopt Section 508 policies voluntarily will likely be able to show that they are complying with the accessibility requirements of the ADA.
standards1
Standards
  • In order to understand exactly what educators, web designers, and others must do to make distance education accessible to people with disabilities, it is necessary to have adequate standards.
standards2
Standards
  • There are two main sources for standards in the field of electronic accessibility:
    • The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) guidelines
    • The Federal Section 508 standards
slide37
W3C
  • The W3C guidelines were written by the consortium, made up of leaders in the field of accessibility and web design.
  • http://www.w3c.org/WAI
section 508 standards
Section 508 Standards
  • The Section 508 web access standards draw from the W3C, but do not contain all the elements.
  • http://www.section508.gov/
state laws
State Laws
  • Several states have passed laws similar to Section 508. These laws vary in their scope and application. Some of them apply to state agencies, while others have wider applications to state universities.
california
California
  • California Government Code § 11135(d)\
  • Requires state government entities to comply with Section 508.
  • Requires entities that contract with state or local entities to resolve complaints on accessibility.
connecticut
Connecticut
  • Adopted W3C guidelines as part of policy for state agency websites
  • http://www.cmac.state.ct.us/access/
  • New York, North Dakota, Maine and Massachusetts have similar guidelines.
kentucky
Kentucky
  • Kentucky Revised Statutes § 61.980
  • Requires state entities and state-assisted entities, including universities and schools, to provide equivalent access to information technology for students with disabilities.
maryland
Maryland
  • Maryland Education Code Annotated § 7-910
  • Requires that technology-based instructional products purchased by Maryland public school systems meet Section 508 requirements.
new mexico
New Mexico
  • Adopted new state law requiring complete accessibility for distance education programs.
north carolina
North Carolina
  • North Carolina General Statues § 168A-7
  • Requires public entities, including educational entities, to make reasonable aids and adaptations to their programs and services to accommodate people with disabilities, including services provided through information technology.
texas
Texas
  • Texas Government Code § 2001.007
  • Requires that state agency websites conform to generally accepted standards for accessibility for people with disabilities.
  • Developed accessibility standards for state agency websites (http://www.dir.state.tx.us/standards/S201-12.htm)
west virginia
West Virginia
  • West Virginia Code § 18-10N
  • Requires state department of administration to develop standards for accessibility of state agency websites and technology purchased by the state.
state laws1
State Laws
  • For more information on state laws, visit:
  • http://www.ittatc.org/laws/stateLawAtGlance.cfm
canada
Canada
  • The Canadian Treasury Department adopted the W3C standards as the standards used on all federal government web pages.
  • Ontario provincial law requires that the provincial government “shall provide its internet sites in a format that is accessible to persons with disabilities, unless it is not technically feasible to do so.”
european union
European Union
  • The Parliament of the European Union adopted a resolution calling on all member nations to adopt standards based on the W3C guidelines in 2003, the European Year of People with Disabilities.
  • This resolution also calls on sites that receive public funding to be accessible.
united kingdom
United Kingdom
  • The Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 prohibits discrimination in “access to and use of information services”.
  • Government websites are expected to comply with W3C Priority 1.
new zealand
New Zealand
  • Government websites are expected to comply with W3C Priority 1 and the W3C standards on Cascading Style Sheets.
australia
Australia
  • The 1992 Disability Discrimination Act calls for online services to be accessible.
  • The W3C standards have been adopted as a “best practice guideline”.
international laws1
International Laws
  • For more information on international laws, visit:
  • http://www.w3c.org/wai/policy/