May 19, 2023 Dear Colleague Letter (PDF) from the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)
Laws and Legislation Overview
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 1990
“The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, State and local government services, [and] public accommodations....” As a state university, an employer, and a resource to the community, California State University, Northridge (CSUN) is bound by the ADA. The ADA extends to and includes the technologies used by the campus.
For more about ADA compliance at CSUN, please contact Equity and Diversity.
Accommodations: Section 504, amended 2008
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires CSUN to provide “accommodations” – auxiliary aids and services – to students with disabilities. The goal of these accommodations is to provide access to information and activities that are equally effective to that enjoyed by other students. Accommodations are provided to an individual student based on his or her request and the information the student provides.
Examples of accommodations include:
- ASL interpreters;
- Braille copies of materials; or
- Software that provides assistance.
At CSUN, contact Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) to request accommodations for students.
Accessibility: Section 508, revised 2017
Accommodations are important but don’t solve every potential barrier. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires CSUN to go further and make our information and communication technologies accessible to everyone.
Students and members of the CSUN community do not have to request accessible features such as:
- Websites and electronic documents that conform to technical standards and guidelines; or
- Captioned videos.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Final Standards and Guidelines
The United States Access Board published the updated Section 508 on January 18, 2017, as the ICT Final Standards and Guidelines. The revised standards and guidelines take a functionality or performance-based approach (“what it does”) instead of the former product-based (“what it is”). Electronic documents were covered by the previous standard, but are explicitly addressed in the refresh. The revised standards and guidelines include cognitive and learning disabilities and limited strength, and add a requirement that, if a function or disability is not covered elsewhere, it is covered by the “Functional Performance Criteria.” The revised standards and guidelines also require that technology on campus interoperate with assistive technology: the accommodations from Section 504.
The ICT Final Standards and Guidelines align Section 508 with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. WCAG 2.0 is the internationally accepted standard for accessible websites.
The ICT Final Standards and Guidelines also incorporate Section 255, covering telecommunications equipment, content, and services.
21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), 2010
The CVAA addresses communication technology and videos. It requires communication services and devices to be accessible to people with disabilities. It requires videos available through the Internet as well as television to be captioned, and it requires devices used to access videos to support captions.
State of California
In 2003, the State of California enacted Government Code (GC) Section 11135, requiring all of its agencies and departments to comply with federal Section 508.