[Athen] National Federation of the Blind and Penn State

Laurie Vasquez Vasquez at sbcc.edu
Tue Oct 11 10:52:07 PDT 2011

National Federation of the Blind and Penn State Resolve Accessibility Complaint

Baltimore, Maryland (October 11, 2011):

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) announced
today that they have reached an agreement that will resolve a complaint
filed against Penn State by the NFB with the United States Department of
Education, Office for Civil Rights. There was no admission of any

Penn State has agreed to continue implementing a strategy to make all
electronic and information technology systems used on its campuses fully
accessible to blind students, faculty, and staff. The information
technology systems covered include course management systems, Web sites,
classroom technology, library resources, banking services, and more.
University Spokesman Lisa Powers said that Penn State strives to
maintain strong academic leadership and has a long record of providing
equal access to educational information and services for all students,
faculty, and staff.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind,
said: "Universities must commit to making sure all of the technology
that they use is accessible to blind students, or else the blind will be
left behind in education and denied opportunity. We are pleased that
Penn State, one of the largest and most recognized public universities
in the country, has agreed to take additional steps to create an
environment of equality in which blind students can pursue their
educational and career aspirations without unnecessary barriers. The
National Federation of the Blind hopes and believes that the steps that
Penn State is taking will set an example for colleges and universities
throughout the nation."

"For more than twenty years Penn State has provided assistive
technologies to students, faculty, and staff," Powers said. "We will
work with the National Federation of the Blind and the Department of
Education, Office of Civil Rights, to put in place the additional
technologies, procedures, and ongoing policies that will help us
continue meeting our strong commitment to access."

The university has had a number of policies and programs in place to
help individuals with disabilities, such as a classroom note-taking
service, textbooks and course materials in electronic format, technology
assistance, and adjustments in testing procedures, to name just a few.
The university has a longstanding policy of providing reasonable
accommodations to anyone requesting assistance.

"We can always do more," Powers said. "In addition to any continued
adjustments to our policies, we also are working with our outside
vendors to see if their products and procedures can be adjusted to meet
the needs of our students."

Russlynn Ali, assistant secretary for civil rights, with the U.S.
Department of Education, said: "Colleges and universities have specific
legal obligations to provide students, faculty, and staff with
disabilities the same benefits, programs, and services. This office is
committed to working with complainants and institutions to ensure that
the important nondiscrimination provisions of this nation's laws are
enforced and implemented."

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