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Innovation & Accessibility at West Valley College

Learning another language can open up new personal and professional horizons for all students, and California’s community colleges are at the forefront of making language learning accessible to everyone in California.

Innovators like West Valley College in Saratoga, California combine classroom teaching with new online tools to provide immersive virtual language experiences, increasing student success and learning.

But when these innovations are needlessly inaccessible to disabled students, the new tools fall short of both their potential and the law.

To address this, TRE Legal Practice worked on behalf of two blind college students to reach a settlement agreement with West Valley College, using an alternative to lawsuits called structured negotiations:

This negotiated settlement helps our clients get the education California makes available to everyone else, and it helps West Valley College become a leader in delivering accessible technology innovations.

The Settlement Agreement includes the provision of Aira to the two students as an interim accommodation while the core accessibility issues are addressed and provides a damage award to the two students.

It also mandates that future procurement contracts must include provisions requiring technology vendors to deliver accessible instruction technology. By mandating accessibility, West Valley College can make it clear to vendors that accessibility is the same level as all other equally critical features that a product must deliver to be a functional, usable, and effective learning tool. Vendors benefit too, since they now know up front what they must deliver to seal the deal, and they can design their products appropriately.

This collaborative agreement also helps West Valley College and its technology vendors comply with state and federal laws and regulations:

We applaud West Valley College for working with us and our clients in a cost-effective, collaborative manner to reach this agreement, rather than fighting against their legal obligations in a much more expensive and time-consuming court battle like that that against the Los Angeles Community College District, which resulted in a judgment against the LACCD on July 22, 2019.