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Courses by edX to improve access for deaf, blind

The Department of Justice has settled allegations that edX, an online course provider, violated federal law because the website was not fully accessible to people with disabilities, federal officials said Thursday in a statement.

Officials said the settlement agreement required edX to provide accurate captioning for people who are deaf, audio navigation signals for people who are blind, and features that could allow people with manual dexterity disabilities to navigate the site.

The agreement requires that the website and mobile applications be fully accessible within 18 months, officials said.

“Critical portions of education are moving online, in tandem with the rest of our social experience. This new, educational online world readily can, and should be, built from the outset in a way that does not discriminate against those with disabilities,” Boston US Attorney Carmen Ortiz said in a statement with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.


The government had alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

EdX said in a statement it has been committed to providing access to people with disabilities since its inception and its commitments under the new agreement would build on its “existing best practices and procedures.”

“At edX, we seek to understand and respect the unique needs and perspectives of our global community of learners,” Anant Agarwal, edX chief executive, said in a statement. “Our vision — quality education for everyone, everywhere — can only be achieved when our site is accessible to all users, including people with disabilities.”

Among the provisions of the four-year agreement are requirements to adopt an accessibility policy and solicit feedback from learners.

The Cambridge-based nonprofit was founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.