“The Pyrrhic Victory For The Disabled”

As noted in posts here and at Cato, the University of California, Berkeley is considering taking down free online course content rather than expose itself to liability and litigation over its possible lack of accessibility for some disabled users. One irony: even if the welfare of disabled persons is treated as the only important outcome, the application of the ADA is probably going to do harm, because online alternatives to classroom instruction are particularly valuable to disabled persons, notably those with impaired mobility. [Alex Tabarrok, FEE (“The ADA Attack on Online Courses Hurts the Disabled Too”) Scott Greenfield (from whom title is taken); The Suburbanist (“So if your disability keeps you homebound, then the ADA will prevent you from viewing online courses.”); Preston Cooper, Forbes.


  • A commenter on Techdirt suggested that Berkeley claim that the on-line courses are only put up as a convenience for enrolled students, and give their students special log-on credentials only for the courses. If some admirer of Aaron Swartz leaked his log-on credentials far and wide, Berkeley could turn a blind eye, but if an SJW leaked his credentials to ADA zealots, Berkeley could argue they had no legal obligation to trespassers.

  • So if the withdrawn online courses turn out to be an accessibility aid for some with disabilities, does that mean the offline courses on campus should similarly be withdrawn?

  • “The ADA Attack on Online Courses Hurts the Disabled Too”

    But greatly helps the class action bar.