shortcut to content
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Accessibility Preparedness

Page address:


This document outlines our understanding of the complaint filed in federal court in 2012 by University of Montana student group ADSUM over inaccessible course materials and the Minnesota State University, Mankato services designed to address the issues in this case.

Outline of the Complaint

In brief, the complaint alleges that:

  • Online class assignments and materials on the learning management system were inaccessible;
  • Live chat and discussion board functions in the learning management system, Moodle were inaccessible;
  • There were inaccessible documents that are scanned images on webpages and websites;
  • Inaccessible videos, and videos in Flash format, that are not captioned were used;
  • Library database materials were inaccessible;
  • Course registration was inaccessible; and
  • Classroom clickers were inaccessible.

Minnesota State University, Mankato Preparedness Response

Below we outline how we address each of the complaint items outlined above at Minnesota State Mankato:

  • Online class assignments made accessible:
    • Our Learning Management System (LMS), Desire2Learn (D2L) has basic accessibility features built into the assignments tools designed to aid students with disabilities.
    • Instructors are contacted if students with registered disabilities are enrolled in their courses and instructed to contact ITS to ensure that course assignments and materials are accessible.
  • Live chat and discussion functions accessible: Our Learning Management System (LMS), Desire2Learn (D2L) has controls that allow users to turn off auto-refreshes and control changes of context. (WCAG 2.0 Criteria 2.2.4, 3.2.5).
  • Scanned documents accessible: ITS provides support to instructors with enrolled students with registered disabilities to make their scanned document accessible.
  • Accessible videos, including captioning:
    • ITS has a well-established pathway for quickly and efficiently captioning media for deaf and hard-of-hearing learners.
    • ITS reaches out to instructors teaching courses with enrolled students with registered disabilities before the start of each semester to encourage them to submit media in advance of the start of the semester for proactive captioning.
    • ITS has identified a service from the WGBH PBS affiliate in Boston that will provide long form video descriptions for non-sighted learners. We have not yet had the requirement to use this service, but we are ready to if the need arises.
  • Accessible library materials:
    • ITS has convened an accessibility steering committee of students, faculty, and staff to help identify major points of inaccessibility in the University’s technology infrastructure. Students in this group have confirmed that we have basic accessibility for most of the databases that they have used; however they recommend a better system for training students in using those technologies. ITS and Accessibility Resources are planning for this for the future.
    • According to librarian Barb Bergman, “most databases now provide HTML and PDF versions of articles. The Ebsco databases include a button that will read the article out loud.”
  • Course registration process accessible: ITS has convened an accessibility steering committee of students, faculty, and staff to help identify major points of inaccessibility in the University’s technology infrastructure. We have received confirmation from our non-sighted students on this advisory committee that they find our registration process to be accessible.
  • Classroom clickers accessible: Our customized clicker tool, ChimeIn is designed to be accessible to visually impaired users. It uses standard HTML and CSS for content display, without relying on third party plugins or images. This makes it highly compatible with screen readers and other assistive technologies. HTML elements are labelled as appropriate, and controls do not rely on input-device specific states. As with all clicker systems and visual content displayed during a live lecture course (such as course slides), intensive instructional design is likely required to meet the needs of learners with registered visual disabilities to ensure that they are not disadvantaged in seeing the results of polls.


We believe we have made reasonable and proactive efforts to ensure that our campus is meeting the needs of visually and hearing impaired learners, and we are working hard to ensure that we engage with those learners to continue to be leaders in this space.

Further Reading

Summary of the lawsuit and implications

An interesting analysis of the original complaint