On November 27, the National Association of the Deaf (N.A.D.) won a landmark settlement with Harvard University that institutes 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 represents the most comprehensive set of online accessibility requirements in higher education and ensures for the first time that Harvard will provide high-quality captioning services for online content.
The settlement expands upon Harvard’s new digital accessibility policy, which was announced in May. According to the new policy that will go into effect on December 1, Harvard must provide captions for all online resources, including school-wide events that are live-streamed, content from department-sponsored student organizations and any new university created audio or video hosted by third-party platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo and SoundCloud.
Also, Harvard must add closed captioning to existing content posted on or after January 2019 within two years. For any content not already captioned, upon receiving a request, Harvard must caption the content within five business days. Harvard is also required to submit reports every six months beginning in June 2020 to N.A.D. and the Disability Law Center with information about the number of requests received and any changes made to these policies, among other details.
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