The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the University of Colorado's Boulder campus after receiving complaints from students with visual impairments.

The department's civil rights division is looking into CU's compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act after concerns surfaced about the school's internet platform compatibility with screen reader software and the accessibility of digital textbooks, digital signage and other technologies for students with visual impairments.

CU is also under federal investigation for its compliance with Title IX, a gender equity law, after an undergraduate woman filed a complaint about the school's handling of her sexual assault last year.

Chancellor Phil DiStefano informed the campus about this latest investigation in an email newsletter sent last week.

The university received a letter from the justice department on Feb. 18 and responded on April 14.

Campus officials said copies of the letter and response were not immediately available.

"We're cooperating fully with that investigation," said CU spokesman Ryan Huff.

A justice department spokesperson did not return Daily Camera phone messages left on Monday.

The Boulder campus has the highest number of students with visual impairments at higher education institutions in Colorado, according to DiStefano's emailed message to the campus.


There are 39 students with visual impairments and four blind students on campus, Huff said.

He said in addition to responding to the inquiry, campus leaders are hiring a new staff member to coordinate its compliance efforts around disability services.

That person will be responsible for implementing the recommendations of a 2013 report on accessibility written by a campus committee.

The campus already has installed screen reader software at various computer labs around campus, including at the University Memorial Center and at Norlin Library, and Microsoft Word's "speak option" is available at all campus computer labs, Huff said.

"There are many tools for students with visual impairments to basically hear the text on the screens," Huff said. "But obviously we have more work to do. The campus community should know this is an issue we take very seriously."

CU's disability services office provides a number of accommodations for students with a range of disabilities, including early registration, note-taking, preferential seating, captioning and lecture recording.

Similar concerns have been raised in recent years by students and advocates for those with visual impairments at Penn State University and Arizona State University.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106 or