United States: Miami University Consent Decree

In January 2014, Ms. Aleeha Dudley, who is blind, filed a civil action against Miami University, alleging among other things that the University excluded her from participation in and the benefit of its services, programs, and activities; discriminated against her on the basis of disability; and failed to take appropriate steps to ensure equally effective communication with her, all in violation of Title II of the ADA and other federal laws. Dudley v. Miami University, Case No. 1:14-cv-38 (S.D. Ohio Jan. 10, 2014). In May 2015, DOJ's Civil Rights Division joined with Ms. Dudley in prosecuting this action by filing a complaint in intervention against Miami University on behalf of the United States of America. DOJ generally alleged in its complaint in intervention that the University used technologies that are inaccessible to qualified individuals with disabilities and failed to ensure that qualified individuals with disabilities could access the University's curricular and co-curricular materials on an equal basis with individuals who do not have disabilities.

On October 17, 2016, the DOJ announced that the United States and the University had resolved all claims asserted in Dudley pursuant to the terms of a proposed Consent Decree, which has since been filed for approval by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. While the district court has not yet formally approved it, the Consent Decree's terms should be of interest to any entity that conducts business online or through the use of electronic information technology.

The Consent Decree obligates the University to improve accessibility of online and other content it provides. For example:

  • All new and "redeveloped" "web pages, web applications, and web content, created by Miami University, on websites and subdomains used for Miami's academic divisions, academic departments, and administrative offices" six months after the approval of the Consent Decree must comply with the Worldwide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, version 2.0, compliance level AA ("WCAG 2.0, AA"). Consent Decree, ¶ 21(a). Preexisting web pages, web applications, and web content must be brought into WCAG 2.0 AA compliance within 18 months. Id. ¶ 21(b). During this 18 month period, the University must, upon request, provide equally effective alternate access of legacy and archive content. Id. ¶ 21(c).
  • Web content that may exist apart from "web pages, web applications, and web content, created by Miami, on websites and subdomains used for Miami's academic divisions, academic departments, and administrative offices" must be remediated upon request. Id. ¶ 23.
  • To the extent the University uses third party content, websites, or applications for admissions or financial aid, or for completion of other specified "important transactions," it must either "(1) cause such third-party content, websites, or applications to conform with WCAG 2.0 AA and this Decree; or (2) provide equally effective alternate access to qualified individuals with disabilities" until the content can be remediated. Id. ¶¶ 21(d) & (e).
  •                     "Videos embedded within the home page of each academic division and Vice-Presidential office, and all videos relating to the completion of critical or important transactions must also comply with WCAG 2.0 AA." Id. ¶ 22(a). Other forms of specified video content must be remediated upon request. Id. ¶ 32.
  • Documents posted by the University's various "offices, divisions, and departments must comply with WCAG 2.0 AA," although the University may seek exemptions to this requirement if "(1) the documents are of interest to a specific and limited audience (e.g., researchers in a particular academic discipline); (2) the set of documents requiring remediation to conform with WCAG 2.0 AA is voluminous (i.e., the total page count of the electronic documents that reside on a single web page exceeds 100 pages), or is—from a technical perspective—exceptionally difficult to remediate; and (3) the documents are presented in such a way that individuals with disabilities are able to identify documents of particular interest and request remediation of those documents." Id. ¶ 22(b).
  • Learning management software applications used to plan, create, administer, document, track, report, deliver, and maintain electronic educational courses and course content and to assess student performance generally must be brought into WCAG 2.0 AA compliance by the end of the 2016–17 academic year. Id. ¶ 25.
  • Curricular materials (e.g., textbooks, workbooks, articles, compilations, presentations, collaborative assignments, videos, and images or graphical materials) must be converted into alternate formats upon request by students who have registered with the University's Student Disability Services department. Id. ¶ 28. The Consent Decree further obligates the University to meet with disabled students who register with its Student Disability Services office "before the beginning of each semester to determine whether the student will require curricular materials in alternate formats, what assistive technologies the student uses or needs, and what formats will work with the student's assistive technologies." Id. ¶ 28(b).
  •                     The University must also promulgate an Accessible Technology Policy; modify its technology procurement policies; create an Accessible Educational Resources Portal; create an automated website and web application accessibility testing tool; designate a Web Accessibility Coordinator, an Accessible Technology Coordinator, and an Accessible Technology Specialist (who will audit the University's digital technologies); and create a University Accessibility Committee to be chaired by the University's Vice President for Information Technology. Id. ¶¶ 35-41.

Brief Comments

The Consent Decree is of importance to digital health service providers for a number of reasons.

First, while the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support and deliver health care, health information, and health education at a distance is on the rise, relatively little attention has been given to the potential obligations of telehealth service providers to ensure that the services they provide are accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. For example, patients who are deaf or who have hearing impairments may not be able to participate in a teleconference with health professionals using telehealth applications that rely solely upon aural communication and that do not provide alternative forms of communication. Similarly, patients who are blind or who have vision disabilities may not be able to use kiosks, video relay services, smartphones, and other apps that communicate information through visual and no other means. The Consent Decree generally reminds all digital health service providers to evaluate whether and to what extent they can and should provide their services to individuals with disabilities in alternative formats and through alternative means.

Second, and on a more granular level, the Consent Decree should be of particular interest to digital health service providers whose operations are subject to the anti-discrimination provisions of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, 42 U.S.C. § 18116. As briefly noted in a prior edition of the Digital Health Law Update, Section 1557 provides that an individual shall not, on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability, "be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under, any health program or activity, any part of which is receiving Federal financial assistance, including credits, subsidies, or contracts of insurance...." Id. § 18116(a). The Department of Health and Human Services regulations interpreting Section 1557 obligate covered entities to comply with the very ADA Title II standards DOJ purports to enforce in the Consent Decree. See, e.g., 45 C.F.R. § 92.202(a) (covered entities to effectively communicate with individuals with disabilities as mandated by DOJ's Title II rules); § 92.204(b)(requiring covered entities to "ensure that their health programs and activities provided through Web sites comply with the requirements of Title II of the ADA").

Finally, much attention has been paid over the past six-plus years as to whether and when DOJ might publish standards for website accessibility under Titles II and III of the ADA. DOJ first announced in a July 2010 Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that it planned to issue such regulations. DOJ, Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Accessibility of Web Information Services of State and Local Governments and Public Accommodations ("ANPRM"), 75 Fed. Reg. 43460, 43464 (July 26, 2010). However, DOJ has only haltingly pursued website accessibility rulemaking since then. Most recently, DOJ issued a Supplemental Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ("SANPRM") in May 2016 indicating that it was accepting "additional public comment ... to help the Department shape and further its rulemaking efforts" under Title II of the ADA. DOJ, SANPRM, 81 Fed. Reg. 28658 (May 9, 2016). It remains unclear when DOJ will complete this rulemaking effort, although it is worth noting that the comment period for the SANPRM closed October 6, 2016. DOJ, SANPRM; Extension of Comment Period, 81 Fed. Reg. 49908 (July 29, 2016). While the Consent Decree isn't binding on non-parties, and on addressees' claims asserted against a public university, it may very well be a harbinger of Title II (and Title III) regulations to come.

We note that this is only a summary of some of the Consent Decree's many and varied provisions and barely scratches the surface of the federal and state accessibility laws and regulations with which public entities and businesses must comply.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions