According to recent news, the University of California, Berkeley has decided to remove 20,000 educational videos from YouTube to address findings by the Department of Justice that these videos do not satisfy accessibility standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). See the university's statement, and this report on reason.com.

While it makes sense to require certain accessibility standards for media when it is created, it seems ludicrous to require deleting or blocking media after it has been created. After all, this helps neither people with special accessibility needs nor those without them.

Does the ADA actually contain passages that can be used to require deletion / blocking of media that do not satisfy accessibility standards? And if yes, what is the motivation for that (assuming one it is documented somehwere)?

1 Answer 1


I believe the relevant section is 28 CFR 35.150 - Existing facilities

§ 35.150 Existing facilities:

(a)General. A public entity shall operate each service, program, or activity so that the service, program, or activity, when viewed in its entirety, is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. This paragraph does not -

Because of this, it seems theoretically possible that someone could complain that the youtube videos of lectures are not accessible enough to disabled persons, and therefore have them taken down. Regardless, it seems that UC Berkley decided to preemptively take down the videos in order to "reset" their online lectures catalogue and make large improvements. But yeah, nothing in the statute says they must take such videos down, but it would be a theoretical violation of the law to leave them up.

  • Good find. Still, (a)(3) provides an exception if an accomodation would cause "undue financial and administrative burdens" - so there seems to be a way out. Of course, maybe they just did not feel like fighting it through, and took the easy way out.
    – sleske
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 0:03
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    Agreed, I don't think they were succumbing to legal pressure in this case but decided to use this as an excuse to revamp their online facilities Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 0:39
  • Note that there are private entities that have legally archived all of those lectures (they were creative commons licensed), and those private organizations don't have the same ADA restrictions. Kind of a back-door. Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 19:33

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