Legal Information about Media Accessibility

Recent court cases, law suits, and settlements involving higher education institutions have made it clear that a person with a disability should be able to acquire information as independently and robustly as a person without a disability. In other words, the University’s obligations involve more than accommodating requests for accessible resources; the University must make an effort to provide their resources to individuals with disabilities in a manner substantially equivalent to individuals without disabilities.

Legal Precedents

Legal settlements involving the Department of Justice, the Department of Education, the Office of Civil Rights, and various colleges and universities consistently require all online video to have synchronized captions and associated transcripts with a minimum of 98%-99% accuracy, although 100% accuracy should be achieved whenever possible.

The American with Disabilities Act of 1990, as regulated by the Department of Justice, requires public universities to provide aids and services that allow individuals with disabilities to participate in and enjoy the benefits of any program or activity. In addition, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 stipulates that an entity receiving any form of federal assistance must afford people with disabilities rights equal to those of non-disabled people. The Civil Rights Restoration Act further specifies that an entity receiving federal funding must grant civil rights to people using any part of that entity, even if it does not specifically benefit from federal programs. The Commonwealth of Virginia also carries accessibility laws affirming the rights described in the ADA and extending those rights to online environments.

UVA Policy

The UVA Information Technology Accessibility Policy requires alignment with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act as well as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines of the World Wide Web Consortium for all procurement, development, maintenance, and user support services involving information technology. Both guidelines require captioning and/or transcriptions for compliance.