For Immediate Release
 
Contact: Anthony Stephens
astephens@acb.org
 
ACB Response to Berkeley Webcasts Removal
 
WASHINGTON (March 15, 2017) – The American Council of the Blind (ACB) raises concern over the University of California-Berkeley’s recent response to an August 2016 settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the nation’s leading public university, following a determination that the university was publicly posting inaccessible online lectures.
 
Starting today, Berkeley will no longer provide content via popular open-access learning channels like ITunes-U, and will begin moving over 20,000 videos onto a password-protected platform reserved for only individuals with university credentials.  The university, in a statement released March 1st, cited cost as the driving factor for its inability to make the publicly available lectures accessible.
 
“It’s deeply troubling that a university such as Berkeley, renowned for its spirit of inclusion and advancement of disability rights, would choose to build a wall behind its publicly available lectures, rather than find a means toward making their content accessible for all,” said Eric Bridges, ACB executive director. “Advancements in accessible technology have made significant strides in finding alternative means to make online media accessible, raising the question if the university exhausted all possible options for accessibility before pulling the plug on its open-access content.”
 
The complaint settled by DOJ was brought by two students at Gallaudet University. The investigation focused on media produced by the university and made available through its website free of charge. The settlement did not include material created for use by students at the public institution, who are directed to contact the office for disabled students regarding accessibility needs. Berkeley has committed to making all future media accessible to individuals with disabilities, including those who are deaf, hard of hearing, or for individuals who are blind and visually impaired.
 
“ACB stands with the students at Gallaudet and all others with disabilities who desire nothing more than full inclusion to online media content,” added Bridges. “It sends a strong negative message when one of the world’s leading providers of freely available online course content takes such a drastic measure as to remove tens of thousands of learning opportunities for everyone.”
 
ACB urges the university to find innovative solutions that make accessible media publicly accessible for all, securing equal access at the same time as it promotes the spirit of free and open knowledge.
 
The American Council of the Blind is the nation’s leading grassroots consumer organization representing Americans who are blind and visually impaired.  With 70 affiliates, ACB strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and to improve quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people. Learn more by visiting www.acb.org