W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > April to June 1999

FW: Civil Rights Letter re Long Beach

From: Gregg Vanderheiden <gv@trace.wisc.edu>
Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 22:11:09 -0500
To: "IG - WAI Interest Group List (E-mail)" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <003801bea1a5$3e6a9240$023afea9@PROXIM>
Notice last part of ruling

-----Original Message-----
From: 	Library Access -- http://www.rit.edu/~easi
[mailto:AXSLIB-L@MAELSTROM.STJOHNS.EDU]  On Behalf Of Prof Norm Coombs
Sent:	Monday, May 17, 1999 6:43 PM
Subject:	Civil Rights Letter re Long Beach

Below is a recent letter between the Office for Civil Rights and Long Beach.
It further underlines the requirement of making computers and information
technology accessible to students with disabilities.  This will be on EASI's
web site in the near future.

April 20, 1999

Robert C. Maxson
California State University, Long Beach
1250 Bellflower Blvd
Long Beach, CA  90840

(In reply, please refer to Docket Number 09-99-2041.)
Dear President Maxson:

On December 17, 1998, the U.S. Department of Education (Department), Office
for Civil Rights (OCR), received a complaint alleging that the California
State University, Long Beach (University) failed to provide a student with
the accommodations required by her disability (blindness) in order to access
the College of Business curriculum and other educational programs.
OCR has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this complaint and over the
University under both Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section
504) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities (Title II), which
prohibit recipients of Department funds and/or public institutions,
respectively, from discriminating against persons with disabilities.
Specifically, the complainant alleges that:
1) The computer laboratories/classes in the College of Business are not
equipped with adaptive technology so that she can take courses such as
Business and Information Systems, which is a prerequisite to her obtaining a
Bachelor of Science degree in her major Business Management.
2) Her course assigned textbooks, which contain substantial amounts of
graphs and charts, were not made accessible to her.
3) With respect to a particular Business Management course, the instructor
refused to provide her access to overhead transparencies and to implement
the appropriate accommodations for the course's final examination.
4) The doors of the offices of the College instructors are not marked in a
manner that enable her to identify the occupant instructor.
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II) requires
a public college to take appropriate steps to ensure that communications
with persons with disabilities "are as effective as communications with
others" [28 C.F.R. ' 35.160(a)].  OCR has repeatedly held that the terms
"communication" in this context means the transfer of information, including
(but not limited to) the verbal presentation of a lecturer, the printed text
of a book, and the resources of the Internet.  Title II further states that,
in determining what type of auxiliary aid and service is necessary, a public
college shall give primary consideration to the requests of the individual
with a disability [28 C.F.R. ' 35.160(b)(2)].
In construing the conditions under which communication is "as effective as"
that provided to nondisabled persons, on several occasions OCR has held that
the three basic components of effectiveness are timeliness of delivery,
accuracy of the translation, and provision in a manner and medium
appropriate to the significance of the message and the abilities of the
individual with the disability.
The courts have held that a public entity violates its obligations under the
Americans with Disabilities Act when it simply responds to individual
requests for accommodation on an ad-hoc basis.  A public entity has an
affirmative duty to establish a comprehensive policy in compliance with
Title II in advance of any request for auxiliary aids or services [see Tyler
v. City of Manhattan, 857 F. Supp. 800 (D.Kan. 1994)].  A recognized good
practice in establishing such a comprehensive policy is to consult with the
disability community, especially those members most likely to request
As universities have striven to provide effective communication to students
with disabilities with respect to computer technology, traditionally the
academic community has relied heavily on a single centralized unit on campus
to house and maintain the specialized adaptive technology equipment.  This
practice has been seen as a method for enabling a small number of staff with
adaptive technology expertise to serve a relatively large number of students
with disabilities.  However, such sole reliance upon a single centralized
location (when not limited to adaptive technology training, but instead used
for instructing disabled students in course subject matter) may run counter
to the strong philosophy embodied in Title II and Section 504 regarding the
importance of fully integrating students with disabilities into the
mainstream educational program, unless such services cannot be otherwise
effectively provided [see 34 C.F.R. ' 104.4(b)(iv); 28 C.F.R. '
35.130(b)(iv)].  Thus OCR assumes in most cases computer access will be
effectively provided to the student with the disability in an educational
setting with his or her nondisabled peers and classmates at the various
computer laboratory sites scattered throughout the campus.
In most OCR cases, at any point prior to completion of the investigative
stage of the case, the college may indicate that it is interested in
exploring voluntary resolution of the issues identified in the case.  A
commitment by the University to voluntarily resolve the issues usually
substantially reduces the necessity for further investigation and may
eliminate the need for OCR findings of compliance and/or noncompliance.  In
this case, the University elected to proceed toward voluntary resolution.
By letter received April 1, 1999, the University provided OCR with a
voluntary resolution plan which resolves the issues raised in this case.
This plan includes the following commitments (as well as others):  The
University will:
1)	Develop and implement a written procedure describing which campus units
are responsible for installing and maintaining adaptive workstations
situated in College and central computer laboratories.
2)	Develop and implement a systematic method for ensuring that the issue of
accessibility to persons with disabilities, particularly blind persons, is
taken into account when colleges purchase computer technology (software and
3)	Develop and implement a systematic method for informing campus employees
who design/select web pages for use by students to make sure the web pages
are in accordance with principles known to maximize accessibility to users
with disabilities, including visual impairments.

If you have further questions regarding this letter, please contact Sarah
Hawthorne, Civil Rights Attorney, at (415) 556-4146.

Robert E. Scott
Team Leader
Office for Civil Rights

cc:	Barbara J. Franklin, Acting Director, Equity and Diversity
	Page 3 - (09-99-2041)
Received on Tuesday, 18 May 1999 23:13:51 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Tuesday, 13 October 2015 16:21:04 UTC