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WebCT Accessibilty

From: Laurie Harrison <laurie.harrison@utoronto.ca>
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 10:01:08 -0800
Message-ID: <36D6E164.F656D523@utoronto.ca>
To: "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Here at the Adaptive Technology Resource Centre, University of Toronto,
we have been using WebCT to deliver online workshops for some time. As
you move through a standard WebCT course site, you will discover that
there are some functions which utilize formats which are not accessible.
For the essential components such as bulletin boards, navigation and
table of contents, the ATRC has developed duplicate accessible tools.
(More info below)

Our search for development tools which consistently provide accessible
formats has not located any satisfactory courseware programs. To this
we have applied for funding to develop course authoring utilities that
will facilitate creation of accessible curriculum and an
accessible student interface and anticipate we will begin this project
in the near future. In relation to this, we have had discussions with
Murray Goldberg, who heads up WebCT, about working collaboratively to
improve the accessibility of their product, and hope that these
conversations will come to fruition

In the meantime... we have come up with several work arounds to deal
with the accessibility issues currently found in this courseware. Some
of the basic problems:

-existing navigation system uses complex frame systems
-bulletin board both use complex frame systems
-uses tables for layout on home page
-images/icons for links and banners do not have ALT text

We have made some significant changes to the standard WebCT format
involving CGI programming to create alternate format for bulletin
boards, and a faily complex cross-referenced frames free index system
(Though the latter is straight HTML, there are some tricks for keeping
links straight when you
are editing in "designer view" while students use "student view") The
addition of ALT text is a work-around one of our editors came up with,
with is not
difficult, but most people would never think of. When you enter the file
name of the image you want to select, you add the alt text after the
file name. Because WebCT writes in the quotation marks at beginning and
end of HREF for you, you need to allow for this by putting quotes after
the file name and before the alt text, but not at the very end. (Write
me for more info if you don't follow this!) You can control the layout
of the icons on the home page, and at least they allow you to enter a
text link with each.

You can view an example of a course demonstrating these strategies at:


user name: guest
password: guest

Or create your own account if you wish.

For more info, please feel free to contact me directly.

Laurie Harrison
Resource Coordinator
Centre for Academic and Adaptive Technology, Information Commons
University of Toronto

(416) 946-3778
Received on Friday, 26 February 1999 10:04:20 UTC

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