Monday, April 24, 2017

Obama Disability Demands Raise Serious Free Speech Issues

In March, the University of California at Berkeley began removing 20,000 college lectures from the Internet. It did so in response to the Justice Department telling Berkeley that posting the lectures violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, because they were not fully accessible to the blind and deaf.

The Americans with Disabilities Act says that services do not have to made accessible to the disabled if doing so would impose an “undue burden” on the provider. The Obama Justice Department paid only lip service to this provision in its August 30, 2016, letter telling Berkeley that it was in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It claimed there was no “undue burden” in forcing Berkeley to make all of those lectures available to the blind and deaf, even though the cost apparently would have exceeded $1 million, a prohibitive amount for a free web site that does not make a profit.

Moreover, it claimed there was no “fundamental alteration” of the service required, even though the Justice Department’s demands for accessibility required more than just verbatim captioning or transcription, effectively requiring Berkeley to create new content. This gave short shrift to limits on the reach of the ADA, which does not require regulated entities to “fundamentally alter” their programs and services to accommodate the disabled.

In response, Berkeley announced that it will:

...cut off public access to tens of thousands of video lectures and podcasts in response to a U.S. Justice Department order that it make the educational content accessible to people with disabilities…On March 15, the university will begin removing the more than 20,000 audio and video files…a process that will take three to five months -- and require users sign in with University of California credentials to view or listen to them.

A third-party digital library copied the lectures from Berkeley’s web site, and plans to make them available to the public on its web site, but it remains to be seen whether this will trigger intellectual-property takedown demands or lawsuits.

As the Cato Institute’s Walter Olson noted last year, such removals of internet content could harm disabled people with mobility impairments: “Even if the welfare of disabled persons is treated as the only important outcome, the application of the ADA is probably going to do harm, because online alternatives to classroom instruction are particularly valuable to disabled persons, notably those with impaired mobility.”



Bird of Paradise said...

Time to totaly defund U.C. Berkeley by 100% cut off the money flowing to these liberal leftists run universities and collages

Anonymous said...

B.O.P. - I think you failed to actually understand the story this time, for once this isn't a stupid thing being done by Berzerkly but another noxious overreach by Federal Bureaucrats trying to justify their salaries,

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:30,

BoP not understanding something?

Color us shocked. (Not.)

Part of the problem is that the DOJ was demanding colleges comply with the ADA yet there is no specifications for websites under that law. The DOJ wants websites to comply with W3 standards for accessibility, but requiring sites adhere to W3 standards has not gone through the mandatory rule commenting procedure required by law.

You are correct that this is an over-reach by the Feds. No one has the resources to fight the tax payer funded DOJ especially when it comes to something like "assisting the disabled."

There are two culprits here - the DOJ and the ADA itself, which has grown far beyond it original intent and usefulness.

No one wants to, but the ADA (or at least provisions of it) need to be repealed.

Anonymous said...

What part of insanity don't the left get? To discriminate against people because they are not disadvantaged rather than address the issue without making an effort to resolve the problem to the advantage of all is ridiculous. How much further can the US retard its development in order to provide universal education?

Bird of Paradise said...

Liberals whine too much you should quit being liberals otherwise you wont be happy anymore just whining too much