Overview of United States' Consent Decree with UC Berkeley: Digital Accessibility in Web, Video, Audio and Education Platforms Under Title II of the ADA

This is being provided in a rough-draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.

CHRISTINE KIM:  Good afternoon, everyone.  Thank you for joining.  We're going to get started.  So my name is Christine Kim.  There we go.  Welcome, everyone.  My name can Christine Kim.  I'm a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section.  

CHARLOTTE LANVERS:  My name is Charlotte Lanvers.  I'm a trial attorney in the Disability Rights Section as well.  

CHRISTINE KIM:  We'll give you a little more background in our office later in the presentation. Today we're here to talk about our recent case, the United States' consent decree with UC Berkeley.  We are excited to talk about all of the different technology issues which have been raised earlier today by multiple talks.  It's kind of a theme.  I'm excited to stay on brand with what's been going on today. But in general we want to just stress that accessibility must be built into the technological environment as much as is built into the physical environment.  And the Department of Justice is committing to enforcing the ADA and the law, so that public accommodations, public entities, all the covered entities and also technology developers and manufacturers that work with them are taking new approaches to make sure they are accessible to people with disabilities.  

Just to kind of get started, we're kind of a smaller group, so if folks have questions, feel free to raise your hand.  Go to the mic.  We want this to be as engaged as possible.  It's kind of hard when we're on the podium with a table.  The more that you guys want to interact, we're more than happy to talk with you all in a conversational way. But we do have our PowerPoint and our standard kind of presentation.  But feel free to raise your hand at any point and we'll save time at the end for questions. So today we're going to, just as a highlight, kind of major points, we're going to focus first on common accessible technology issues in higher education.  And then we're going to go through the Department of Justice and the ADA.  The Americans with Disabilities Act, and how it applies in accessible technology spaces. And then we're going to go through different cases including the Department of Justice cases, including our consent decree with UC Berkeley.  

Common accessible technology issues in higher education. I think one thing that we often think about in the higher education space, we always think about universities and colleges, from the perspective of the student.  And in reality the universities are using a lot of a range of different technology platforms, using a lot of different ways.  So we kind of wanted to give a broad overview of kind of expanding our way of thinking about the space I guess around accessible technologies in public universities and private universities and colleges. So overall universities use a range of technology platforms to make their online content available to the public.  And also to students.  And these technologies may have accessibility barriers.  

The platforms can range from university websites, which I'm sure all of us have gone to multiple times.  But they also can be multiple applications that they're using, whether or not they're their own or third party.  Educational software and platforms.  And also third party websites and applications. And going back to university websites, nowadays a university has multiple departments and units and centers and there's the performing arts group.  There's a lot of different parts to university.  And some of the university websites might be created by staff.  And run by staff.  But some of those websites can also be made using third parties or third party hosting and design sites like Drupal or WordPress, whether these are created by the university or operated by staff, if online content is being provided by one of these covered entities, it's theirs regardless whether it's through a third party developer or not.  

So nowadays, there's the content is everywhere.  On every single app for universities in higher education.  YouTube, YouTube videos, you have Facebook videos, Facebook live.  You have podcasts, you have podcasts can be anywhere including on Spotify.  EdX and Coursera are different online sites that universities use.  There's a ton of different platforms. Going off different types of content in higher education, we also think about from the student's space from the student side courses and things like that. But for members of the public who are trying to access higher education courses there's different kinds of content that universities are providing to the public. That includes things like audiovisual media, like videos and podcasts and E-books and online documents and large publications.

I know I listen to podcasts that are provided by Berkeley Law or by different organizations or different schools and I think we're all kind of consuming media from different places.  But universities and higher education contexts are also engaging in the space and providing a lot of content.  And so we have an example so the photo just to make sure the photo that's available on the slide shows a laptop screen that has the EdX home page that says advance your career advance your life.  And it has Harvard's logo, Berkeley's logo and other universities showing how many universities use it to offer things like public courses. I said this multiple times, just kind of push this point even more forward.  We're talking about how in higher education spaces online content that's being provided to students, but also to the public. Or to both.  And it can be lectures, conferences, sporting events, admissions information, graduation ceremonies. The examples that we have on the slide are Taylor Swift at the NYU 2022 commencement speech.  

As much as that's for the students because it's a graduation, a commencement speech, it's also for the public. I think a lot of us have watched famous graduation speeches. Or the duke baseball game is the next on the slide. It's great for students but also a huge thing forth public.  Podcasts from Yale University's press.  And inside UVA or Inside University of Virginia also a podcast that's on Spotify.  So this online content this is from DOJ, it's a service program or activity than a college, university or post-secondary institution under Title II of the ADA.  But often times we find that much of it is inaccessible to people with disabilities. So common accessibility barriers, I'm sure you all are very family with a lot of these issues.  We find that the online content has poor color contrast. People with limited vision or color blindness cannot read the text if there is not enough contrast.  Like gray text on a light colored background.  

Often times we see the use of color alone to give information.  If you're color blind and they don't have access to information.  It's all being con viewed through color cues.  Also screen readers often cannot tell when the color text on the screen. A third common barrier is a lack of text alternatives or alt text.  Another one is no captions on videos or no transcripts for podcasts.  How many times have you watched a video or wished that you had captions or a transcript.  Inaccessible online forms.  A person with disability may not be able to fill out the form or even understand what the form is trying to convey.  Because the labels are not correct.  There are no clear instructions, et cetera. And also mouse only navigation is a common issue that we see across different online content.  
So DOJ has a lot we've been doing a lot in this space, in the accessibility technology space, and there's been tools that we can use to ensure that online content is accessible.  So the Disability Rights Section, where Charlotte and I both work is the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.  What we do is work to achieve equal opportunity for people with disabilities in the United States by implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act, the ADA. We have kind of three big buckets of tools. The first is regulations.  We are tasked by Congress to propagate regulations under Titles II and III of the ADA. That means we probably give the regulations for governmental entities and public accommodations.  So our regulations, we hope, provide clarity and guidance about the obligations imposed under the ADA.
The next big thing that we do is technical assistance. So we developed technical assistance documents like guidance, and the website has been recently revamped and has been brought into the new century.  And it's a primary point of contact or dissemination of documents and tools.  And we also have an ADA information line and if you've never called it, we actually have a team of extremely experienced and wonderful specialists who understand the ADA and can provide free technical assistance over the phone to anyone who calls.  And they're great.  If you ever have questions, they're always there and highly recommend.  We also have our enforcement powers. So essentially, that includes initiating investigation.  We investigate entities under the ADA.  We can file a lawsuit.  We can intervene in lawsuits, we can issue public findings, we file statements of interest, we file consent decrees and settlement agreements.  Range from size from small to large and can be nationwide or practice cases and our respondents are anywhere from a large corporation to entire state governments to a small day care even.  

We also have an ADA mediation program.  So if you file a complaint with our office, sometimes it gets referred to a mediation program that we run, where the complainant and the respondent can go to mediation and resolve their issues.  That way.  And we also have our US Attorney program for ADA enforcement.  Which means that we work and expand our effort enforcements with the U.S. attorney offices around the country so that they can also can lead ADA investigations and obtain relief in their jurisdictions too. So I guess more than 84 of the U.S. Attorney's offices currently participate in this partnership. So recent technical assistance.  First is our guidance on web accessibility and the ADA.  This is from March 18th of last year.  We are excited to announce this one.  It was just a guidance piece that talks about why web accessibility matters.  Examples of access barriers.  Why the ADA requires web content to be accessible and how to make web content accessible.  

The second technical assistance document relates to testing accommodations, which I think we often think of specifically a lot of the different testing accommodation requirements.  But there is a lot that has to deal also with web accessibility since a lot of these testing entities and a lot of these issues are now or a lot of these services are being provided online. And the last one is our Dear Colleague letter to college and university presidents.  Back in 2010 we actually issued a letter to different university and college presidents throughout the country explaining the need to ensure that people with disabilities are not excluded or denied opportunities because of inaccessible technologies. If there are topics or areas where you think it would be helpful for DOJ to issue technical assistance, whether it's a Dear Colleague letter, a guidance piece or anything like that, feel free to reach out to us and let us know so we can consider that.  We always appreciate all of your expertise.
And I guess I'm sure a lot of people know, but we're currently I guess pulling back from that, we want to be very clear that we take the position as DOJ that the ADA applies to the accessibility of all covered entities, web information and services.  It's been a longstanding position of the department. And later we're going to explain specifically how the ADA applies.  And we actually also are going to ensure, as a lot of you know, there's going to be a notice of proposed rulemaking that's being issued in the spring of this year.  According to the unified agenda, it's going to be released on May in just a few months, and it will be a 60 day notice period.  And it's going to provide technical standards for state and local governments, specifically about web accessibility and it's going to clarify how entities should comply with existing obligations under the ADA.  

CHARLOTTE LANVERS:  I'm going to talk about the enforcement work that we have done under Titles I, II and III quickly.  In the space of web accessibility. So a lot of the individuals in this room know who the ADA applies to. In the context of higher education, it can often apply like Titles I, II and III potentially apply to entities of higher education.  So colleges and universities are employers. They are providing services to their students.  And at times they are also providing Title III testing services to students as well.  Let me just dive in. So under Title I, entities have to provide reasonable accommodations to employees. This includes how they select and administer their employment tests.  DOJ has had a couple of recent settlement agreements that required entities with online applications to ensure those applications were accessible to individuals with disabilities.  

These involved a series of cities that essentially asked individuals if they had disabilities as part of the application process.  And the relief ordered included relief requiring that the entities provide accessible online applications, in addition to prohibiting them from asking about an employee's disability in the application process. In the context of Title II of the ADA, public universities have obligations to their students, in terms of providing effective communication in the classroom and in any other university based activities. This also includes a lot of the free public content that universities provide to members of the public online.  And I would say beginning in 2012 or so, we began to see an increase in the kinds of online public offerings that universities made to the public. They would open a lot of their lectures and intellectual discussions to the public via YouTube or embedded videos on their websites.
And this was also around the same time that universities began to partner with massive open online course platforms and developed courses available to the public for free. So enter the University of California at Berkeley.  In December, we entered a consent decree with the regents of the University of California as to the University of California at Berkeley, based on the findings from an investigation filed by the National Association of the Deaf, and I see Howard in the audience. Hi, Howard.  Alleging that UC Berkeley's content that was open and available to the public was largely inaccessible to people who are Deaf or hard of hearing. At the time, UCB, I'm sorry, I will call the University of California at Berkeley either UCB or Cal on occasion.  

At the time, a lot of Cal's content was essentially what they called forced capture lecture from their classes that were put on YouTube.  At times multiple lectures from the same class, at times a particularly popular lecture.  And the overwhelming majority of this content either lacked any captions or had automatic captioning.  Which, in that time, was largely impossible to comprehend when turned on. The algorithm has since improved, but it often only takes a word being off to completely change the meaning of the verbal information in a video.  Rendering it impossible to understand. So at the time we focused on Cal's MOOC, it was run off of the Ed Ex platform, and previously the department had negotiated an agreement with EdX that essentially required its platform to support accessible online content.

And so we alleged, in a 2016 letter of findings that UC Berkeley's MOOCs, its YouTube channels and what was in existence iTunes university was inaccessible to individuals who are Deaf and hard of hearing.  And individuals who have vision disabilities, as well as individuals who have mobility disabilities.  And may not have full use of their hands to maneuver a mouse. These are examples of the content available on UC Berkeley.  It is a collection of all kinds of potentially interesting information sporting events on the Cal Bears channel, information about admissions; podcasts produced by the business school.  Particularly throughout the COVID 19 pandemic, when the online world effectively became the only option for engaging and this content, it really drove home the importance of its accessibility.  

So just ahead, I apologize.  Part of our investigation looked into inaccessibility as to a wide variety of types of disabilities.  And this is a screenshot of an example of the kind of inaccessibility that we repeatedly encountered on the UC Berkeley YouTube channels. There is an image of a young, white woman with brown hair, and she    the video is titled Welcome to Berkeley.  And the captions in the video state Berkeley, this is Berkeley Berkeley I go to school at cow this is cow. She's actually saying that she goes to Cal, C a l which is a nickname for UC Berkeley, for those who don't know.  And the captions are repeating the term cow, like an animal cow. One typo or error is all it takes to render content impossible to understand. So as I indicated, we entered, we filed a Letter of Findings in August of 2016.  And essentially found that the failure to provide accessible content on their MOOCs and on their YouTube channel, violated the ADA.

Shortly thereafter, UC Berkeley removed the vast majority, if not all of its course lectures from public view.  And if we wondered whether it was part in response to our letter of findings, we soon found out that it was.  They announced on their website that they would remove all of their course lectures from public YouTube channels, in part because of our findings. So this was obviously not an outcome that we wanted. It's awful when entities choose to essentially resolve the problem by eliminating the very thing that we want to promote access to. But we carry on, I guess.  And eventually were able to enter into a consent decree with Berkeley.  Which requires Berkeley to make all future and the vast majority of its existing content accessible. Revise its policies, train key staff, designate a web accessibility coordinator, and conduct accessibility testing.  

Specifically it will require that within nine months, all of Berkeley is MOOCs on EdX be made accessible, both existing and new courses, as well as all the audio and video content.  Within nine months all newly published audio and video content on its websites, subdomains and third party platforms like YouTube and Apple podcasts need to be made accessible.  Within 18 months, websites and subdomains need to be made accessible.  And within 36 months, all existing audio and video content on its websites and subdomains all existing podcasts on third party platforms, which we believe to be at least 2100 episodes.  And all existing audio and video content on third party platforms, like YouTube, if the file has 750 views as of the effective date of the agreement, or if it was posted within two years of the effective date. We think this amounts to over 16,000 YouTube videos, or the majority of UC Berkeley's YouTube videos.  

In the Title III context, we've also recently entered into a collection of agreements against pharmacies that had inaccessible websites, both advertising and offering the scheduling of COVID vaccines.  I won't spend too much time on this. And we've also entered into agreements with testing and licensing entities that often provide online courses or offer tutoring to individuals online that were inaccessible to people who were Deaf or hard of hearing. Examples of these include settlement agreements against Professional publications, Inc. and Teachers Test Prep both which essentially offered online courses to individuals seeking assistance with testing preparation.  

The Teachers Test Prep case also involved an online provider of testing prep that offered individualized tutoring.  So it required a resolution that provided for online accessible one on one tutoring for a student who is Deaf.  We always welcome the public to file complaints with our office.  We can't do our work without you filing complaints.  So it is always encouraged and appreciated.  We receive a lot every year, so we cannot open them all, unfortunately.  And we just don't have the resources to.  But we are unable to do our work without advocates who seek challenges and are willing to communicate those challenges to our office. Does anyone have any questions?  I see a hand up.  

Question and Answer Section 

CHARLOTTE LANVERS:  One second.  A mic is arriving.  

ATTENDEE: Thank you.  In the Berkeley case, your agreement was to get content and compliance.  What does it look like in that case for new content or ongoing compliance?  

CHARLOTTE LANVERS:  Sure.  So the consent decree requires that all new content be made accessible.  It also has a provision requiring that Berkeley make content available on a request system.  And Berkeley is forbidden to take content down so that it does not have to fulfill a request.  If that makes sense.  

CHRISTINE KIM:  The consent decree has a term of three and a half years, right? Three and a half years. And so from the point of when the consent decree was entered by the judge in December going forward, everything that is new content that is posted on any of the covered websites, platforms, et cetera, all new content has to be made accessible.  That means captions, everything.  And then there is a lot of existing content that is going to be made accessible over the course of the period in kind of like work flows throughout the three and a half years.  

ATTENDEE: Doug town on Access Ready.  We have gotten a number of complaints from college students, mostly vision impaired, who say that their professors are sending them inaccessible PDFs, articles, scanned articles, things like that are kind of on the fly.  And they're not able to find them in accessible format.  They can't read the scans.  And when they talk to the professors about it, the professor says, it's not my problem.  And the universities don't typically don't do anything about it.  We've approached a couple of professors about it, and their reaction has been you're not going to tell me how to teach my class.  I'm just wondering if you're looking at this. I referred a number of them to file a complaint with the DOJ.  I don't know if you've gotten any of them, but that's what we've been telling people.  

CHRISTINE KIM:  We would welcome complaints in that space. I would say we do get thousands and thousands of complaints and Charlotte and I are part of the enforcement team and we have a really great, dedicated intake team that screens all the complaints. But if you are    I would say for advocates for in this space and you know a complaint is coming in, feel free to let us know. Or I can put our emails at the end.  Put it back on the screen so you can see it.  Never mind.  I want to get our emails on the screen. Let us know.  We can't promise that we'll open an investigation, but I think it helps sometimes to know this complaint was filed by advocates or that you recommend us taking a really close look at it.  

ATTENDEE: Have you looked at this issue?  

CHARLOTTE LANVERS:  We're aware of this issue. I think the challenge for us as an enforcement team with 18 attorneys is that you sort of have like often a collection of individual students. And I appreciate that blindness at a university is a low incidence disability.  So it's hard sometimes to find a lot of those complaints at the same university.  But I think our challenge is that we see a lot of this.  And often it's a disability services entity within a university that is not responding quickly enough.  And it's hard for us, I think, to effectively respond to each of these allegations.  And so you are seeing a systematic trend, I think it would be more likely that we would respond in opening a complaint.  I obviously can't promise that that will happen because I don't have any say in that.  

I think though, I mean, maybe it sounds like it would be helpful to get guidance out that further explains the obligation to universities.  And if that's the case, I would urge you to email us and ask for guidance on this issue.  Because if it's happening all over the place, and if it's one student at one university, it may be more effective for us to opine on the issue by offering technical assistance.  And so don't be shy about asking for guidance, as Christine indicated earlier. I think at times... Nobody around you will, that's good.  

ATTENDEE: Hi there.  This is Howard Rosenblum with the national association for the Deaf.  Thank you so much for working on the cases that we just had recently.  My first question related to that settlement, related to podcasts.  What kind of conversation have you had to have a standard requirement for podcasts themselves for them to be accessible for the Deaf and hard of hearing individuals?  And then I have another question to follow up with that.  

CHARLOTTE LANVERS:  Was to the agreement with UC Berkeley, or in general?  Like do you want sort of the accessibility of podcasts?  

ATTENDEE: For UC Berkeley in particular, but just in general. 

CHRISTINE KIM:  We require accurate transcripts for all the podcasts.  Therefore all existing as of the date of the agreement and all feature podcasts that are going to come out for the entire three and a half year term of the agreement, they all have to have accurate transcripts.  

ATTENDEE: So specifically transcripts, opposed to captioning?  


ATTENDEE: Okay.  Thank you for your answer. The second question, which is a separate question.  Is would it be possible for DOJ division or have a Dear Colleague letter sent as a standard guide for jails and prisons?  In terms of communications act. 

CHARLOTTE LANVERS:  Yeah.  We will suggest that a request has been made for TA on this issue.  Yeah.  

ATTENDEE: Thank you so much.  

CHRISTINE KIM:  One clarifying point.  I think generally the podcasts that we've seen with UC Berkeley, the UC Berkeley podcasts that we've seen at this point are all audio only podcasts on Spotify.  In the past with iTunes You the content was a mix of video and audio.  My understanding at this point is all of the podcast content is entirely audio only recordings. 

ATTENDEE: I have a question and a comment.  Last I heard on the UC Berkeley stuff back in 2017 when they dumped the content off, the online courses well you're looking like a bunch of jerks but you're legally entitled to do it, I suppose if you're willing to take the public relations heat.  How do you get them back to the table?  

CHARLOTTE LANVERS:  I don't even know.  I wish I knew. It's a funny thing.  I think it's always like the elephant in the room with a lot of these cases involving huge archives of content.  In our view in the web accessibility world has been at this point like just because content is old does not mean it is any less relevant.  And a lot of older content, a lot of really popular videos are of interest. But it is sort of asking an entity at times, I mean I think UC Berkeley had tens of thousands of videos.  And so it is always sort of a possibility that we certainly try not to talk or think about, but it is always a sort of thing that can happen in these negotiations.  

CHRISTINE KIM:  I also just think in general, and this is also through the work of a lot of the people here in the room and in this conference, that there's just been, from 2017 until today, incredible advocacy done in the accessible technology space. So the things that are being asked of and required of UC Berkeley and all these different entities, it's more understood that it is the norm. It is established. DOJ has taken the position for many years that online content is oftentimes the covered program service or activity, or I guess goods, service or benefit, I forget the formulation under Title III. But now I think it's better understood among covered entities, that they're not going to get away with not having accessible online content. 

ATTENDEE: That part I understand.  My question is how do you get them to have online content instead of not having online content?  

CHRISTINE KIM:  I do think in a lot of ways for higher education, it's part of their marketing.  It's how they keep up their level of prestige.  Because even in the course of DOJ has been looking at you and you just keep making more content.  But it is extremely I think important.  It's a service that's being provided to everyone. Like a little bit of a law nerd, I don't know how to say his name, Kaminsky at Berkeley law who has a podcast, it's part of the marketing themselves in a way. You can't really be a prestigious university or part of the community even and not have some level of online content. So I think that's part of it. But I think them willing to come to the table for many things, including Charlotte's dogged persistence with this too 

ATTENDEE: And my comment was going to be last year I was litigating a case in Florida against an online CLE provider.  And the defense had moved to dismiss on the basis that they were not a place of public accommodation.  Of course we never claimed they were.  We just claimed they were offering examinations and courses under 309.  And in denying the motion to dismiss, we had cited the Teachers Test Prep and Professional Publication and he found those persuaded and he cited those.  The settlements may not be legally binding but with some courts if they want to be persuaded by them, they are.  Thank you for that. 

CHRISTINE KIM:  Charlotte Lanvers was the one who settled Teachers Test Prep. 

CHARLOTTE LANVERS:  I'm happy it served a good purpose.  That's great.  

ATTENDEE: Hi.  Thanks for the presentation and your work. I was wondering if in either the UC Berkeley context or otherwise if you've kind of looked into the issue of inaccessible library databases, the platforms themselves and the often inaccessible PDF content.  I don't know if it's covered by the content of the UC Berkeley agreement or not.  Curious about that.  

CHRISTINE KIM:  Technically the UC Berkeley consent decree applies to all Berkeley.edu websites.  That includes any website all that is Berkeley owned and operated.  It wouldn't include stuff like student groups own a word press website, but if it's a Berkeley library, they have a performing arts space, they have centers, all these things.  If it's Berkeley website it's covered.  And they've agreed to WCAG.  It should be accessible.  That includes the online, sometimes library databases also have media, like videos and audio. So that's part of the agreement as well.  Is that all existing audio and video on any website, regardless of whether it was posted. How old it is or how many views, it doesn't matter.  Anything on Berkeley.edu website has to be made accessible. So we'll be obviously watching that as part of our compliance monitoring.  

ATTENDEE: This is Corbb.  You may have answered this when you say they agreed to WCAG.  What about audio description and what stance has DOJ taken on audio description for video content?  

CHARLOTTE LANVERS:  Yeah, I'm happy to.  The MOOCs we mentioned are run on the Berkeley ex platform which is an EdX platform.  It's my understand that the EdX platform supports audio description.  And so the new and existing Berkeley x MOOCs need to have audio description. The standard or the technical standard in the cases WCAG 2.0AA in part because we issued the LOF under that technical standard. It's a little bit trickier to require audio description on YouTube, because it was our sort of operating understanding that at the time YouTube did not support audio description.  And so we kind of are operating in a system where, if the platform itself doesn't support an otherwise required technical standard requirement, it's hard to legally require the entity to provide it.  And so we are kind of tied to the functionality of the platform, if that makes sense.  

If and when that changes, and I think as is the case with EdX, it is required.  So I think it's a moving target to a certain extent. But on the other hand I also think it potentially introduces more of a conversation over weighing the affirmative defenses. Transcripts for podcasts are easy to make, are cheap.  Captions are also increasingly easy.  And have also become a lot cheaper over time. And so potentially audio description will be the same.  And I don't know, because we haven't ever analyzed it.  Like I would just think that it would have to be a fulsome conversation about all of the relevant considerations, if and when it becomes available on the platforms. Any other questions?  

ATTENDEE: My name is Rick and I'm from Minnesota.  I'm curious to know what kinds of I guess technical reasons UC Berkeley gave for resisting so long.  Were there more issues with existing content as opposed to new content?  Were they saying it couldn't be done?  I'm curious on the technical level, on the legal level.  

CHRISTINE KIM:  We can't in general share anything that we've learned from respondents that are specific to our cases and investigations or negotiations.  We have    we keep everything confidential to the extent that we need to under the law to protect our confidentiality of our cases. I would say in general though, that I think entities, it's a ton of content.  A ton, a ton of content, thousands and thousands of videos, audio recordings.  And a lot of times too, especially in the higher education space, there's often a decentralized like there's a decentralized way that online content is being put online.  You'll have the law school, the business school, the music department, the center for whatever, and the library, and then there is the other part of the library.  They all have different accounts.  They all have different media that they're putting out.  Even websites can be designed differently within they all might have the same Berkeley.edu or the same university.edu website.  But in the end behind, when you look at the script, it's different hosting platforms.

So it can be more challenging than suing CVS or one of these conglomerates that has a very tightly controlled public presence.  And so the universities it can be difficult to rein it in and make it accessible.  Because you'll have maybe a hundred channels with a hundred log ins and people administering these different channels.  Nonetheless, it's a program service or activity of the entity.  It doesn't matter that it might not have been a grad student or an adjunct professor who's running their channel for them and has the log in.  Oftentimes we'll see things like symposia, or even the English department's graduation ceremony. That's something it's clearly a program, service or activity of the school.  Or obviously a good or a service of a public accommodation.  And needs to be made accessible.  And all these arguments of how difficult it is, we get it.  But you know.  

CHARLOTTE LANVERS:  I think there was also sort of like they have all this content, but from their perspective a lot of it is garbage.  A lot is these esoteric videos that no one watches and they have to make garbage accessible.  We were kind of like yeah, that's how the law works.  Even if it's a really bad video that you don't like and they don't like, you can't put it out there and only put it out there for some. So I think it was a herculean task to think about how to do this.  And to want to do it. And then once we kind of got over that hump, we tried to find a way that we could do it and have people not be really unhappy about it.

But I do think it sort of changes the thinking about what content is made.  Because it makes all content more expensive to put out there. But I think the upshot of that is that often they're creating better content for everyone.  And it's a much more thoughtful exercise, ultimately. But I think it was just very upsetting to think about having to put all of these resources towards potentially making videos that no one watches accessible.  Which is part of    I mean, I can understand as opposing counsel why they would feel that way.  But the obligation is the obligation.
CHRISTINE KIM:  Kind of like what we said earlier.  It's better to build in accessibility from the ground up, and think about it as being a necessary part of everything that you're doing.  Because it is a lot harder to remediate on the back end, especially in decentralized systems like these university settings.  Question?
ATTENDEE: Sorry to interrupt we're out of time.  

ATTENDEE: If you're helping a student, when does it make sense to send a complaint to the Department of Justice rather than the Department of Education?  Is there something you all are specifically looking for?  Either one, it doesn't really matter?  What does it make sense to send your way?  

CHRISTINE KIM:  I would say that we have jurisdiction under Titles I, II and II of the ADA and V.  So if it falls within one of our jurisdictions, feel free to send us a complaint.  I will say that we only have    we have 20 attorneys that do all enforcement for all public employers, public entities, public accommodations, testing accommodations, for the entire country.  And so we do have limited bandwidth with what we take and what we are actually able to investigates and bring cases all the way for the entire life of a case.  So we generally do look at things that are more systemic or more high impact, because we do have such limited bandwidth.  So if you're looking for relief on an individual student or something of that sort.  I love bringing those kinds of cases too.  But I would say because we have such limited resources, we do focus on more systemic issues, I would say.  

CHARLOTTE LANVERS:  At times if it's an individual student case, we end up referring it to Ed OCR anyway.  So it may make sense to go to Ed OCR.  If you suspect a lot of individuals or if it's sort of a large university system or large school system and you suspect a blanket policy, we are interested.  I don't know if that helps.  

CHRISTINE KIM:  You can file both at the same time too.  We have our online forum is like a simple short form too, and it doesn't need to be I think advocates think you have to write this long legal analysis.  It's not necessary.  Any member of the public, it's one or two sentences.  So it doesn't need to be like this meaty thing.  We don't want to create a huge onus on folks when they're filing complaints.  You can even do them at the same time. Thank you everybody.  

[ Applause ]