Berkeley, facing accessibility demands, may take down free online course content

Advancing a trend we’ve been warning about, the University of California, Berkeley, said it may have to take down educational course content posted free online for the benefit of the public due to an ongoing conflict with the U.S. Department of Justice over whether it is obliged to accompany the content with expensive captioning and other technological assists to make it more accessible to disabled visitors. I’ve got a write-up at Cato. More: Robby Soave, Reason; Andrej Karpathy Twitter thread about withdrawal of computer science videos; earlier on web accessibility. And this tweet, from Prof. Sam Bagenstos responding to Soave’s article, represents the culmination of the entire civil rights model.


  • A proposal:
    Each Department which posts free online courses should replace Diversity Administrators and personnel with Accessibility Administrators and personnel. The function of the latter would be to prepare and insert Closed Captioning, accurate descriptions of visual materials and reading of texts, and ensuring that prompts and control functions can be manipulated by persons with physical limitations. That would actually promote diversity by making the information available to groups otherwise excluded, and without regard to race, ethnic background, gender, etc. (Oh, and the University would employ administrative support staff who actually aided its educational mission. Or, is that too radical an idea?)

  • They don’t teach Vonnegut in school anymore? I thought “Harrison Bergeron” was succinct (it’s what, 3 pages?) enough that it was still taught in middle school – or has it been replaced with a trigger warning?

    This is why we can’t have nice things. School is “too expensive”, unless the college makes it free, apparently. Then no one can be allowed to have it, unless everyone can…

  • How will they teach subjects like math, which are heavily dependent on reading equations? What about art courses where they analyze different colors and the positions of diffy rent elements in a composition? What about music for the deaf? Or feminist logic for engineers who have no idea about how women think?

    (I would actually pay good money for an explanation of the last subject)

  • Free educational content? Can’t have that. The excuse is irrelevant.

  • Blind, b.s. computer science East Carolina University, 5/1990. Courses included statistics, calculus, discreet mathematical structures, logic. Equations can be represented both electronically and in braille… As for colors, there’s more to art than painting/drawing and maybe a physics course would be helpful in explaining some of the concepts if an art teacher can’t manage it. This isn’t Wesleyan, but UC Berkley. If you suck at the government teat, then you get to play by government rules. So explain to me exactly why a state supported school can provide free to the public courses (that I as a taxpayer in part pay for) that aren’t accessible? Am I not part of the public? I realize that this is not an accepted premise here, but you will admit that there is no such thing as free of cost, and my taxes go toward their production costs just like yours.

  • I’d like thank conservative Bob Dole for shoving this monstrosity down our throats.