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Re: Teach Act?


From: Karen Sorensen
Date: Nov 20, 2013 1:32AM

Hi WebAIMers,
The Teach Act? Really? I mean even it's name is confusing. Hello?! There
already is a TEACH Act. It provides special copyright provisions for
Distance Learning.

And yes, there already are laws requiring equal access in post-secondary
institutions. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA are pretty
clear about that. And the Dear Colleague Letter of June 29, 2010 and the
follow-up Q&A<http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-20100629.html>;made
it quite clear that equal access pertains to websites and technology
used by students and faculty at federally funded institutions.

And since then, we have had at least two OCR decisions that included
technology and websites, Lousiana
Tech<http://www.ada.gov/louisiana-tech.htm>;and South
Carolina Tech<http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/investigations/11116002-a.html>;.
whose settlements provide further clarification of postsecondary's
obligation to provide equal access to all students.

I'm sorry, but I think it's a stalling technique by publishers. They are
trying to get the US Access Board to " develop guidelines for electronic
instructional materials used by institutions of higher education. " But
standards for accessibility already exist (Section 508 and WCAG 2.0) , and
the ADA formally announced their plan 2 years ago to adopt, adapt or
develop standards on the accessibility of websites and technology to be
included in the ADA.

Our institution isn't waiting for the ADA announcement which keeps getting
delayed or this TEACH Act smoke screen to clear. After all, it's not the
publishers who are going to be sued or have OCR judgements against them.
Our current practice is to manually review every new online course for
accessibility before it is launched.

And since the Louisiana Tech OCR settlement came out which included
inaccessible online publisher content as part of the complaint, our
administration is seriously considering a ban on all inaccessible
instructional content adoptions, which would rule out almost every
publisher with digital content that I'm aware of.

I encourage all schools (pre and post secondary) to prohibit the adoption
of inaccessible instructional materials. And if the publishers can't make
their materials accessible, that they provide us with the equally effective
and equally integrated alternate formats we need to fulfill our legal
obligations to our students with disabilities.

If there are others trying to deal with inaccessible publisher content at
their post-secondary institutions, I would love to talk more. This is a hot
topic at our school right now. Please email me off list if you would like
to discuss this more.
Thanks for reading my rant.

Karen M. Sorensen
Accessibility Advocate for Online Courses
Portland Community College
*"The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone
regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”* Tim Berners-Lee