Advocates for the deaf sued Harvard and M.I.T. for violating antidiscrimination laws for failing to provide closed captioning in their online lectures, courses, podcasts, and other educational materials. A complaint stated, “Much of Harvard’s online content is either not captioned or is inaccurately or unintelligibly captioned, making it inaccessible for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Just as buildings without ramps bar people who use wheelchairs, online content without captions excludes individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.” A spokesman for Harvard commented that Harvard expected the Justice Department to propose rules this year to “provide much-needed guidance in this area.” The federal government has already moved to ensure that blind students will not be left out by the use of electronic readers, so now it is taking the same kind of action to ensure that deaf students have access to captioned materials.
Contributor: Chelsea Edirisuriya