Complaint Filed Against Penn State University for Inaccessible Technologies

On November 12, 2010, a complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Education against Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) alleging violation of the civil rights of blind students and faculty. The complaint, filed by NFB, says that a variety of computer and technology services are inaccessible to people who are blind. COAT affiliates have long noted the trend to more and more electronic technologies used in public and private education. Without accessibility for users with vision loss, or who are blind, once again some individuals with disabilities will be left behind and left out.

The accessibility problems alleged at Penn State include:

  • An inaccessible library website due to improper coding that prevents access by software used by people who are blind.  
  • Departmental websites not fully accessible to people who are blind. including the Penn State Office of Disability Services website.
  • An interactive course management system called ANGEL that allows students and professors to interact about course content that is inaccessible to blind users.
  • “Smart” podiums --which allow professors to connect their laptops to a computer at the podium and display images and videos for students to see on a screen --  are operated by an inaccessible touchscreen keypad that controls almost all podium functions, forcing  blind faculty members to have sighted assistants.
  • A student identification card system linked to a banking system by PNC Bank has a website that is inaccessible to users of screen reader software.

The complaint calls for an investigation of Penn State and is filed under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act which requires public state universities to offer equal access to their programs and services for all people with disabilities. NFB's press release is attached below. For more information, please contact Chris Danielsen at NFB, Tel 410-659-9314, extension 2330 or Cell 410-262-1281 or Email. 

Penn State complaint release.doc158 KB


I don't obviously have much

to say as I don't know much but this is a very interesting story and it's a shame when universities, who are well funded privately or by the taxpayers, don't make things accessible and usable by everyone.

How is this possible? It's

How is this possible? It's all happening in an University. Universities should be the symbol of morality in our society. This complaint obviously has some serious grounds, I hope they'll get to solve the problem and leave it in the past. Using technology is school improves one's chances to get a better job.

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My brother recommended I might like this blog. He was entirely right. This post actually made my day. You cann't imagine just how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

There should be more services

There should be more services provided for the blind people in these days . Software should always be accompanied with sound. Also they should be provided training on how to use computers more easily. People with disabilities should not be left out in these days of such advanced technologies .

It is perfect time to make

It is perfect time to make more things accessible before it is too late. Companies really should step up to the plate and innovate in disability accessible before they get more bad press for forgetting to do it.

Well I really liked reading

Well I really liked reading this blog and all the articles as the need for accessible communication technologies for people with disabilities is hugely important as the whole world goes digital. I hope to get more involved in this.

I recently came across your

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along all the stories about accessible tech. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading and learning a lot and hope that companies make more things accessible or we should boycott their products and services.

I am constantly searching

I am constantly searching online for articles that can aid me and this one was very helpful as it focuses on accessibility which few blogs do on a contiinuous basis. Thank you!

 Sometimes, these complaints

Sometimes, these complaints may seem a little over the top. But, if you give it a second thought they are not. No matter what, schools and universities should go the extra mile to make things accessible for ALL their students or they are not really in the business of education.




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