Whether or not, people would agree with the decision removing the content from the public. This still shows that businesses, even colleges like Berkeley, MIT
, and Harvard
are still behind when it comes to accessibility issues. The American Disabilities Act is over 25 years old ( Around about 27 years old in fact!). It is more important now to learn how to avoid these issues in order prevent these type of situations.
As, a Hard of Hearing person, I can completely understand how sometimes expenses can become an issue. But, it is no excuse to not make your content accessible.
Lessons Learned from the Berkeley’s Lawsuit Case
Be Accessible from the Beginning
While I am not sure how long Berkeley had their online courses for the public view up, one of their first mistakes was making sure the content was accessible from the beginning. It is important if whenever you plan to provide something for public view, you have to put accessibility in mind.
“Many websites are more accessible now than they were a decade ago. Many large companies now include accessibility considerations in their Web development process; however, it’s often too late in the process.”
There is a reason why there are so many complaints about accessibility being too expensive. If content wasn’t built with the accessibility in mind, then it is harder to make an existing inaccessible content become accessible. That is it is important to do research first and cover all your bases to ensure your target audiences receive and learn the message. While it may look time-consuming, it saves stress, resources, and trouble if you put accessibility as your priority.
Accessibility is not just a social trend, it is a demand issue.
In my past blog post, I wrote about the Economic Model of Disability
, where we need to move from thinking disability is a social issue to a demand issue. With the rise of people becoming disabled or already being disabled today, it is worth something to move towards to when there is a potential market that should be tapped into.
Not saying we should completely move from the Medical and Social Model, both the Medical and Social Models of Disability will always have a place in our society. However, there are downsides to both models when applying them in a business setting.
“ Instead of addressing disability as a personal issue or as a social problem, which places great stress on government agencies and public service providers, businesses can use their talents and expertise to analyze and evaluate the growing disability market, and generate market-driven solutions that effectively accommodate the diverse needs of people with disabilities.”—DrumBeat Blog.
Looking at disability as a demand issue is a much better strategy. Successful accessibility requires a lot of research and understanding your market. Once those are mastered, it would be easier to be not caught off guard by complaints of the lack of accessibility.
If anything that can be learned from the Berkeley lawsuit response, understanding the disability target market would have saved them from a lawsuit. However, what’s done is done. The best thing that Berkeley, any college, or any business can learn from this is the power of understanding your target market can help your business, as well as following laws and regulations.
Perhaps, it is time to look at disability in a different way. Looking at a disability in a social perspective have helped advanced society to makes strides with accessibility and disability rights. However, we should be looking at disability from an economic perspective that can help businesses and college strategize their marketing strategies to improve accessibility. Making content accessible should be a first priority, which can save you time from trying to fix the issue later on. At the end, Berkeley and many other businesses still have a lot to learn about accessibility. Let’s hope this lesson learned for anyone in the future.