Facade of gray building with a colonnade of 10 round 30 feet tall columns. Along the facade, over the columns, carved is the phrase

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) announced on February 18th a "landmark settlement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that brings a series of new guidelines to make the university's website and online resources accessible for those who are deaf or hard of hearing." The settlement is similar to one reached with Harvard University last November, "which together represent the most comprehensive set of online accessibility requirements in higher education and provide a new model for ensuring worldwide online and digital accessibility in academia and business for people who are deaf and hard of hearing." 

MIT agreed to provide industry standard captioning for publicly available online content, including video and audio content posted on MIT.edu as well as MIT’s YouTube, Vimeo, and Soundcloud pages, certain live-streaming events and online courses such as Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), MITx and MIT OpenCourseWare. 

The terms of the settlement are included within a consent decree, that can be enforced by the court. Anything posted before Jan. 1, 2019, must be captioned or removed from public view only if someone requests it, according to the consent decree.

The litigation with MIT began in 2015, when a class-action lawsuit was filed in Massachusetts. "The lawsuit was prompted by the recognition that, notwithstanding the description of MIT’s online resources as “open and available to the world,” many of its videos and audio recordings lacked captions or used inaccurate captions. MIT had no published policies in place to ensure these learning tools were accessible to people who are deaf and hard of hearing."

Through the litigation, MIT filed two motions to dismiss the case. In response to the second motion, the court ruled that federal laws prohibiting disability discrimination covered MIT’s online content. 

The settlements with Harvard and MIT create a profound impact in online learning accessibility. Hopefully, this will prompt academic institutions in general to take accessibility into account from the inception of any audio visual material.



- “Landmark Agreements Establish New Model For Online Accessibility In Higher Education And Business.” National Association of the Deaf, February 18, 2020, https://www.nad.org/2020/02/18/landmark-agreements-establish-new-model-for-online-accessibility-in-higher-education-and-business/

- “NAD Sues Harvard and MIT for Discrimination in Public Online Content.” National Association of the Deaf, Febrero 12, 2015, https://www.nad.org/2015/02/17/nad-sues-harvard-and-mit-for-discrimination-in-public-online-content/

- “MIT to Caption Online Videos After Discrimination Lawsuit.”  The Associated Press, Feb. 18, 2020, https://apnews.com/6c211a6697c81899aaa7e9d72d7d0274


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