Thursday, February 19, 2015

NAD Sues Harvard and MIT for Discrimination in Public Online Content - National Association of the Deaf

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and four deaf and hard of hearing individuals filed two federal class action lawsuits today against Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), charging that the schools discriminate against deaf and hard of hearing people by failing to caption the vast and varied array of online content they make available to the general public, including massive open online courses (MOOCs). The cases, filed in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, assert that these universities violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act by denying deaf and hard of hearing people access to thousands of videos and audio tracks that each university makes publicly available, for free, on broad-ranging topics of general interest. These include, for example, campus talks by luminaries such as President Barack Obama and Microsoft founder Bill Gates; educational videos made by MIT students for use by K-12 students; “self-help” talks; entire semesters’-worth of courses; and regular podcasts such as the “HBR IdeaCast” by the Harvard Business Review. The universities boast that their content is available free to anyone with an Internet connection. Millions of people have visited the websites.

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