Chancellor Carol Christ; Ella Callow, director, Office of Disability Access & Compliance; and Jenn Stringer, associate vice chancellor for IT and chief information officer, sent the following message to the campus community on Monday:
We are pleased to announce that UC Berkeley has reached a resolution of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Civil Rights Division’s investigation regarding the accessibility of our online content. This agreement with the DOJ reaffirms Berkeley’s commitment to ensuring accessibility for everyone. The agreement, which was formally approved on December 2, 2022 and is effective immediately, applies to UC Berkeley-controlled online content that fall into these three categories:
- Publicly accessible websites on berkeley.edu, including subdomains operated by a UC Berkeley entity (example of a subdomain: freespeech.berkeley.edu).
- BerkeleyX online courses.
- Audio and video content posted by a UC Berkeley entity, hosted on berkeley.edu and on Berkeley’s accounts on third-party platforms such as YouTube. This includes podcast channels or accounts on platforms such as Spotify or Apple Podcasts. This category excludes a defined subset of older “legacy” content, which may be made accessible on request.
These improvements will be made in phases over the term of the agreement, which is three years and six months. Within the next four months, we will introduce procedures and guidance to carry out the terms of the agreement. Over the next nine months, we will work to ensure that BerkeleyX and covered audio/video content posted on or after December 2, 2022 meet the accessibility standards set forth in the agreement. Covered berkeley.edu websites will be brought up to date with the accessibility standards within 18 months.
We are also working to ensure that the preexisting audio and video content covered by the agreement — content that is of most interest to the general public — is made accessible over the next 36 months. Given the large amount of audio and video content generated by UC Berkeley entities over the years, our goal of making this content accessible will take the longest amount of time.
The DOJ agreement concludes an investigation that began in 2014 when massive open online courses (MOOCs) were coming online and gaining in popularity at universities across the country. During that time, as the DOJ’s investigation was ongoing, there were developments in digital accessibility best practices and advancements in accessible technology that helped the campus focus its digital accessibility efforts and invest heavily in making access to its online content more equitable.
The DOJ and UC Berkeley have reached a resolution that will advance digital accessibility at UC Berkeley without protracted litigation. We are pleased to have reached a resolution of this matter, as we work toward the common goal of ensuring that digital content is accessible to everyone.
We recognize that disability rights are a human rights/civil rights issue. This critical work is part of our broader effort toward enhancing diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging on our campus and beyond.