Miami University Settles Disability Discrimination Suit


Miami University in Oxford, OH Agrees to Overhaul and Improve Accessibility of Learning and Web Technologies for Students with Disabilities

VITAC_Miami U Settles Accessibility Suit

You may remember our post from earlier this year when the Office of Civil Rights reached agreements with 11 educational institutions in seven states and one territory regarding accessibility for students with disabilities. The organizations all had complaints filed regarding website accessibility concerning Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

On Monday, October 17, the Justice Department filed a consent decree resolving a similar suit with a higher education institution.

Miami University in Oxford, Ohio has agreed to improve their learning technologies after the Department of Justice (DOJ) intervened in a court case originally brought forth by one student, Dudley v. Miami University. Ms. Dudley was a student who is blind at Miami, and alleged that the university did not provide accessible materials and technology to her.

The DOJ intervened to encompass protection and accessibility for all Miami University students under Title II of the ADA, which prevents discrimination against individuals with disabilities in regards to services, programs, and activities run by state and local government institutions.

According to the DOJ, Miami University’s technologies used in their classrooms are inaccessible to students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, low vision, or have learning disabilities.

Furthermore, the DOJ’s intervention claims that the Miami University did not make technology accessible and did not ensure that the university’s website and other online course content such as assignments and text was as accessible to students with disabilities.

Under the consent decree, Miami University has agreed to:

  • Make certain its website, content, and learning management systems are compliant with 2.0 AA Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
  • Set individual meetings with students with disabilities to develop an accessibility plan for the technologies and/or materials needed for the student
  • Obtain software or technology that meets accessibility standards and needs, including improvements to the university’s procurement procedures.

The consent decree will also pay $25,000 to compensate students with disabilities.

“This settlement will ensure that students with disabilities can access and receive the full benefit of 21st century technology in higher education,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in the DOJ’s press release Monday.

Potentially other universities and higher education institutions will follow without any lawsuits or intervention by the DOJ to make all assistive learning technologies accessible for all students.

The consent decree is still pending court approval. Check back for updates on this and other accessibility issues on VITAC’s Accessibility News blog page, and keep informed about federal guidelines regarding protection on our regulations pages.

By Brittany Bender