According to Inside Higher Education, The University of Berkeley was forced to delete 20,000 online educational videos and podcasts due to violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Employees from Gallaudet University, a Washington D.C. school for the deaf, had filed a complaint with the Justice Department about Berkeley’s vast library of content being unavailable for consumption by those with hearing disabilities. The Justice Department investigated, and found that the content was indeed violating the law, and ordered that the university make the material more friendly for the deaf.
16 MOOCs available in March and April 2015 and another 10 in January of this year. The Justice Department also based its analysis on reviews of 543 videos on Berkeley’s YouTube channel, and on 99 lectures in 27 courses on iTunes U.
Going through all this content and adding the necessary material to bring this content up to par would have been extremely time consuming and expensive. So it was that the university decided to just delete all the free public content.
“In many cases the requirements proposed by the department would require the university to implement extremely expensive measures to continue to make these resources available to the public for free,” Koshland wrote in a Sept. 20 statement. “We believe that in a time of substantial budget deficits and shrinking state financial support, our first obligation is to use our limited resources to support our enrolled students. Therefore, we must strongly consider the unenviable option of whether to remove content from public access.”
While the law is the law, this content is now only available to those fortunate enough to attend Berkeley, cutting off any access to those without the means or background necessary to be there. As Reason’s Robby Soave states, “I can’t imagine the authors of the ADA intended to destroy a valuable public resource because it wasn’t perfectly accessible to all, but here we are. Taking the quality out of equality: that’s clumsy federal regulation for you.”