The Ever Changing ADA

Texas Tech University is fully committed to complying with all aspects of the American with Disabilities Act. However, sometimes that is easier said than done! Recent court cases and rulings by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights have put new pressures on institutions of higher education.

This past summer, in a settlement with Louisiana Tech University, the Department of Justice issued guidelines that had a significant impact on current trends. In essence, the Department of Justice indicated all institutions will now be held fully accountable for making all of their materials, online and in face to face classes, fully accessible to all students. It stated that all websites, electronic programs, and web content posted by any department or college must fully comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0 AA). Likewise, all electronic content posted online or used in classrooms since January of 2010 must be fully accessible before December 1, 2014.

So, what does this mean for us?

Basically, any materials that are used by faculty or staff, online and in face to face classes, must be fully accessible to students who use screen readers as a result of visual impairments or have hearing impairments that prevent them from hearing audio lectures. In short, if an instructor uses a video of any kind in their class or online, the video needs to be captioned or contain a written transcript. Likewise, any documents used must be saved in a format that works with screen readers, typically a word document.  If you are worried about these documents being modified or changed, you can learn how to protect your documents.

So, now that we know what is required, how do we get there?

In order to support the needs of faculty, the Teaching Learning and Professional Development Center (TLPDC) has partnered with the Student Disability Services office to form a captioning lab and transcription center. This will be up and running in the next few weeks and will be able to transcribe materials and caption videos needed for immediate use. In the interim, if faculty members get a request from a student to have materials in an accessible format for immediate use, faculty can contact the Student Disability Services (SDS) office and we will use a contract service to help get materials converted in a timely manner. For more information, please feel free to contact the SDS office at 742-2405.

Coming up next month: Service Animals on Campus!

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