Legal

Overview

This guide should be used to design all public-facing media that is officially affiliated with the EPIC project. Legally, it is required for "places of public accommodation" to comply with the regulations listed below. Law suits so far have seen some courts, in some states, extending the definition of "public accommodation" to digital media produced by privately held enterprises, but other states not. As more court cases are waged and settled, qualitative understanding of what constitutes a "place of public accommodation" will be better defined.

Ferris State University Policy

Section 504

Requires federal departments, agencies and public schools to ensure accessibility of their “electronic and information technology” to individuals with disabilities unless to do so would result in an undue burden, in which case multiple modes of access can be employed (see below). Aids, benefits, and services must be “equally effective”—i.e., they must provide students with disabilities “an equal opportunity to obtain the same result, gain the same benefit, or reach the same level of achievement."

Section 508

Federal departments, agencies and public schools are effected by a 2015 update to 508. This requires requires compliance to WCAG 2.1 level AA (Web Content Accessibility Guideline) plus some additional requirements under 508. Websites, Multimedia mobile apps and desktop multimedia will all need to comply or multiple modes of access will need to be offered. The three main components are:

  1. Technical – these requirements make sure the coding of a website, software, operating systems, etc. is compatible with assistive technologies.
  2. Functional – these requirements ensure that in addition to the technical coding, the entire system is usable by someone with a disability.
  3. Support – these requirements make sure that support documents and alternative information is also accessible by people with disabilities.

Title II of the ADA

Prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in all public entities, including public schools, regardless of whether they receive federal funding. Schools are required to take appropriate steps to ensure that communications with individuals with disabilities are as effective as communications with others. The term “communications” refers to the transfer of information, including the verbal presentation of a lecture, printed text of a book, and resources on the Internet. In evaluating the meaning of “as effective as,” OCR has focused on three components of effectiveness:

  • Timeliness of delivery,
  • Accuracy of translation, and
  • Provision in a manner and medium appropriate to the significance of the message and the abilities of the individual.


CVAA (21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act)

Requires television programming that is repurposed for online delivery to have captioning. Audio description for television has slightly different requirements that phase in between 2010 and 2020. Currently, the top 60 TV markets are required to describe 50 hours per calendar quarter. The next phase-in is in July of 2018. And the goal is for there to be 100% audio description on television by 2020.

Title III of the ADA

Prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in places of public accommodation. This can mean non-governmental and non-public-educational places and media must meet WCAG 2.1 level AA requirements for electronic media.

Compliance

At this time compliance is a judgement call and is being tested in the courts. As more court cases are waged and settled, a qualitative understanding of compliance will continue to be better defined. This understanding will be compiled and published as guidelines by organizations like W3-WCAG, UDL on Campus and 3PlayMedia

According to the NY Times in a May 2018 report By Erica L. Green entitled "Disability and Civil Rights Groups Sue DeVos Over Investigation Rollbacks", Education advocate Marcie Lipsitt "had opened more than 2,400 web-accessibility complaints against various educational institutions in the last two years which resulted in more than 1,000 resolution agreements with institutions such as colleges and universities, which vowed to make their websites accessible to people who are deaf or blind or who struggle with fine motor skills".

In May of 2018, The department of education released new rules resulting in the dismissal of more than 500 cases filed by Marcie Lipsitt. The changes have also resulted in some of the previous agreements being revised.