Campus technology at Penn State is leaving blind students behind, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports. The National Federation for the Blind has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Penn students, faculty, and staff alleging the university has created serious challenges for blind members of its community. These challenges, it says, amount to an attack on students' civil rights and hinders equitable access to education.
According this press release from the National Federation for the Blind, grievances include an online library catalog which is improperly coded for screen readers, in-class technology which is not suited to blind faculty, and partnerships with campus venders, like PNC Bank, who are not sufficiently accessible. In addition, the course management software Penn State uses, Angel, is not suited for screen-readers in its full version, locking students out of important course information. Important websites, like academic departments and the Office of Disability Services are also not coded for screen readers.
Penn State's student newspaper, the Daily Collegian, reports a Penn State spokesperson assured the newspaper these complaints are taken seriously and being investigated.
This is not the first time the NFB has sued a university over access issues. Last year, it sued Arizona State over its use of Kindles in the classroom. Kindle has a text-to-speech feature in books themselves but lacks this accessibility in its interface (e.g. settings, menu, book selection). Following Arizona's agreement to discontinue Kindle use, other universities followed suit.
The NFB's official complaint against Penn State can be found here.