What’s the Law (ADA, Copyright, FERPA)?

Iowa State University’s land grant mission to “create, share, and apply knowledge to make Iowa and the world a better place” (Mission and Vision, Office of the President, Iowa State University) is governed by policies based on federal and state law. The three main laws that govern teaching and learning activities are:

  1. The Americans for Disability Act (ADA)
  2. The Copyright Act
  3. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

You will find below best practices and resources on implementing these laws in teaching and learning.

The Americans with Disability Act (ADA)

ADA, as amended, at the federal level is an anti-discrimination statute designed to ensure equal access to opportunities, programs, and benefits for qualified individuals with disabilities in education, employment, and other areas.

At the state level, the Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA) prohibits discrimination based on disability in both employment and education. This incorporates the right to access information in education, employment, and other areas.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

To guide faculty design and develop courses accessible to learners with diverse needs and abilities, it is best practice to follow principles of universal design for learning (UDL). UDL developed as a response to the observed mismatch between learner needs and the curriculum; learners have diverse needs and abilities, but the curriculum is standardized. For learning to occur, the curriculum should be implemented flexibly. This involves:

  • Representation of content – present content in multiple ways to support learners unique abilities to build knowledge
  • Engagement of learners – motivate and allow learners to engage with the curriculum in different ways,
  • Expression of learning – allow learners to demonstrate what they have learned in a variety of ways.

Digital Accessibility

Digital accessibility deals with providing access for learners with special needs to learning materials and activities that use digital technology. It considers:

  • Audio/Video Accessibility
  • Document Accessibility
  • Image Accessibility
  • Website Accessibility

ISU’s Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT), Digital Access, and ELO have developed several resources on digital accessibility. Please review the links below.

Useful Links

The Copyright Act

The Copyright Act provides protection for “original works of authorship as soon as an author fixes the work in a tangible form of expression” (What is Copyright) and provides guidance regarding the ethical and fair use of work created by others.

Questions dealing with the ownership and use of content are common as faculty design and teach their course. The Parks library can help you with questions such as:

  • How many chapters of a book can I scan for distribution to my online class on Canvas?
  • How much of a movie can I screen in my classroom or use in my online course?
  • Can I post my article on my website, which is published in a journal?
  • Do I need to cite work in my article that is in the public domain?

Useful links

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
FERPA protects the privacy of student data gathered during their educational journey. The creation and sharing of content, such as class recordings or student information like student grades, student pictures needs to adhere to university policies based on FERPA guidelines. This becomes especially challenging in online courses due to the ease of use and popularity of collaborative technology and social media. ISU’s Office of the Registrar is the appropriate contact for your questions relating to sharing of student data.

Useful Links