Federal Court Rules in Favor of Blind Students
Finds that Los Angeles Community College District Violated Disability Laws
Los Angeles (August 21, 2019): The National Federation of the Blind, its California affiliate, and two blind students, Roy Payan and Portia Mason, have won their disability discrimination lawsuit against the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD). The Federal District Court for the Central District of California Found that LACCD violated the students’ rights under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by, among other things, failing to provide them with accessible documents and course materials, failing to provide equal access to library resources, procuring and using inaccessible educational technology, and maintaining an inaccessible website. The court specifically criticized the use of the Pearson MyMathLab product, finding that Los Angeles Community College failed “to provide [Roy] Payan with meaningful access to his course materials in the math classes in which Payan enrolled, either through the MyMathLab software program or via equivalent accessible assignments from a math textbook in a timely manner.” The court’s final order requires, among other things, that LACCD appoint or designate a dean of educational technology for Los Angeles Community College, with responsibility for enforcing accessibility policies; remediate its website to make it accessible; and evaluate educational technology for accessibility prior to procuring it.
“The court in this case has forcefully affirmed the longstanding legal obligations that institutions of higher education have to their blind students,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “This judgment is a victory not only for the students who brought this case, but for current and future blind students in the Los Angeles Community College system.”