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Monday, April 20, 2015

EdX, DOJ Reach Accessibility Agreement

A compliance review by the U.S. Department of Justice has led to an agreement with edX to make its massive open online courses (MOOCs) more accessible to people with disabilities. EdX agreed to make its website, mobile applications, and learning management system fully accessible within the next 18 months.

As part of the settlement, edX will provide guidance for course creators on best practices in creating accessible online courses, hire a web-accessibility coordinator, and develop a web-accessibility policy. The settlement acknowledges that edX has taken steps to improve access, but needs to do more.

“We were very aware in 2012 or so about the emergence of MOOCs and the importance, or the potential importance, that they offer to students who have distance barriers and cost barriers to getting good educational content,” Eve L. Hill, deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights, said in an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. “And they offer a potentially really good avenue for students with disabilities.”

Details of what was wrong with the edX platform were not provided, but Hill told The Chronicle that common website accessibility problems include videos without captions and pop-up windows that can’t recognize screen-reader applications used by the visually impaired. 

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