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.