There are four existing laws you should be aware of when designing online content at an institution of higher education.
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, says that colleges or universities that receive federal funds need to ensure that people with disabilities can participate in programs & activities and have the same benefits that people without disabilities have. Subpart E requires an institution to be prepared to make reasonable academic adjustments and accommodations to allow students with disabilities full participation in the same programs and activities available to students without disabilities.
- Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is an amendment that deals with electronic information and technology. If you are a state that receives federal funds under the Technology Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988, you need to ensure that people with disabilities have access to and can use information and services available to non-disabled members of the public. This includes information stored on web sites and in online courses. Ohio receives funds from the Technology Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988. With a recent rewriting of Section 508, on January 18, 2017, the rule now refers to Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) as Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
- The American with Disabilities Act of 1990 expands the reach of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to private as well as public institutions of higher education. It requires schools to provide access to the same programs that non-disabled people participate in, in an integrated setting where possible. It requires auxiliary aids and services when necessary to ensure effective communication.
- The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 requires modern communications to be accessible to people with disabilities. This means VOIP services, electronic messaging, video conferencing, video communications & mobile browsers.
For those who are curious, the following sites have lists of higher education accessibility lawsuits, complaints and settlements: