Contributed by Tena Herlihy, edX General Counsel.
Today, we are proud to announce that we have voluntarily entered into an agreement with the US Department of Justice regarding the accessibility of our website, platform and mobile applications.
Under this agreement, we believe that edX will become the world leader in website accessibility for learners with disabilities. We share this announcement with great pride.
As a technical matter, edX has agreed to conform our website, platform and mobile applications to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA (WCAG 2.00 AA), published by the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C’s) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).
At edX, we seek to understand and respect the unique needs and perspectives of our global community of learners. Our vision—quality education for everyone, everywhere—can only be achieved when our site is accessible to all users, including people with disabilities. We value every learner.
EdX has been committed to providing educational access to learners with disabilities since our inception. In fact, as part of our agreement with the DOJ, the DOJ offered kudos to edX for certain steps we had already taken to allow students with disabilities to access our platform and courses on our site.
Our platform incorporates synchronized transcripts, keyboard accessible controls and support for screen reader users. We know that we still have more to do, but we have always been committed to this goal, and we are excited about where we are going. In the coming weeks, we will release the first accessible text annotation tool, Student Notes. This feature includes custom keyboard controls developed to improve the learning experience for visually impaired and other keyboard-only users.
EdX has released the Open edX platform under an open source license, making it available for anyone to use for free. We accept contributions of software code from developers from around the world and encourage the Open edX community to assist edX with our ongoing efforts to make the platform accessible.
EdX offers courses from the world’s best universities and other leading global institutions. Our courses have many advantages for all students, including those with disabilities, such as availability at little or no cost; flexibility in terms of attendance, assignments, testing, location and environment; and video replay in different speeds. While edX’s agreement with the DOJ does not address course content, edX provides content providers with best practices and guidance on developing accessible content. We will continue to offer tools and support to our partners to enable the creation of accessible content. We will also ensure that our platform does not block any accessibility features already included in course content.
We sincerely appreciate the gratitude our learners and partners have expressed as they have noticed our efforts to make our site accessible over the years.
The commitments we have made as part of our agreement with the DOJ are not specifically included in any US laws or regulations that apply to entities such as edX. In 2010, the government announced its intent to pass such laws that would apply to all US operators of websites, and we strongly believe these regulations should be enacted as soon as possible. The laws regarding website accessibility should be clear and uniformly applied.
While the law and policy catch up, we are very proud to be a leader in website accessibility for learners across the globe.