Deaf Advocacy Group Sues Harvard and MIT for Discrimination

Closed captions.
Closed captions on video content. Creative commons image via Resized.

Earlier this year, the National Association for the Deaf (NAD) filed class action law suits against Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), arguing that their online video content lacked the captions necessary to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Harvard and MIT both publish extensive video content, much of it open to the public. Videos include course content associated with massive open online courses (MOOCs), lectures by distinguished speakers, and other educational materials.

NAD charges that the vast majority of the videos released by Harvard and MIT lack the closed captions necessary to make them accessible to deaf and hearing impaired people. Thousands of videos lack closed captions, and additional videos contain erroneous or inadequate captions, making them inaccessible to millions of deaf and hard of hearing Americans who rely on these accommodations.

NAD representatives hope that a positive case outcome will influence many more colleges and universities to check their video content for appropriate captions, as mandated by the ADA. For more information, see