UC Berkeley Forced To Delete Content After Violating The American Disabilities Act

Dileepan Selvaraj

On March 1st, 2017, UC Berkeley announced that it would be deleting all of its free and publicly available course publications in all formats. The decision was made in response to the Department of Justice's directive after the latter found that UC Berkeley's website was in violation of Title'II of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.

Starting March 15, 2017, the process of removing nearly 20,000 videos, podcasts, and course materials from UC Berkeley's webcast.berkeley.edu portal, YouTube channel, and iTunes will begin. The process is set to take 5 months.


The entire series of events was set in motion a few years ago when a disability-rights activist named Stacy Nowak, along with National Association of the Deaf filed a complaint with U.S. Department of Justice about UC Berkeley's online content accessibility standards. After its investigation, the Department of Justice then ordered the university to make all of their content accessible to everyone, including the differently-abled.

UC Berkeley decides to remove all its content open to the public

UC Berkeley then evaluated its options to comply with the ADA while still being able to keep its content available for the public. Unfortunately, the officials found that retroactively making the content accessible to differently-abled people would be 'extremely expensive.' So, Cathy Koshland, UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor for undergraduate education, announced that the University will restrict the public's access to its videos, podcasts, and other material until they build a new platform that comply with the ADA standards.

'Beginning March 15, 2017, access to iTunesU course content will be suspended. On the same day we will begin the process of moving the publicly offered YouTube content made from the current legacy channel [youtube.com/ucberkeley] to a new authentication login required channel. The entire process is expected to take three to five months. During this time the'ETS team'will migrate the videos into the new channel behind CalNet/CAS authentication. Berkeley users seeking to view this older content will be able to access it by logging into YouTube with their Connected/Google-supported identity. '

The American Disabilities Act

The ADA's nondiscrimination mandate states that no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by a public entity.

Nearly all colleges and universities are subject to the ADA, Section 504, or both. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides broad nondiscrimination protection in employment, public services, and public accommodations (including many areas of colleges and universities), for individuals with disabilities. The ADA is enforced by multiple federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, Department of Labor, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Why ADA Matters for Your Educational Institution?

By making your educational institution's website ADA compliant and meeting the WCAG 2.0 guidelines you can limit your liabilities and increase accessibility.

Even 20% non-compliance to ADA standards may lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in lawsuits and penalties.

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