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Re: Re: Accessibility problems with Blackboard?

From: Mike Scott <mscott2@msfw.com>
Date: Fri, 22 Mar 2002 14:30:33 -0600 (CST)
Message-ID: <3311.64.108.45.145.1016829033.squirrel@tux.msfw.com>
To: <Paulb@cpd2.usu.edu>
Cc: <mscott2@msfw.com>, <j.byrne@gcal.ac.uk>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Thanks Paul. I'll definitely check out the proceedings for the Blackboard 6 
presentation. It's good to hear that improvements may be in the works.

We have used the Blackboard screen reader tutorial 
(http://products.blackboard.com/cp/bb5/access/screen_reader_tutorial.htm) 
in training our blind students on the necessary workarounds. Unfortunately, 
the problems we've had with JAWS losing it's place in the deeply nested 
framesets (or HPR failing to render the pages) has limited the tutorial's 
usefulness. (Freedom Scientific hasn't been much help on this one either...)

Point well taken on the need to continue to be constructive in providing 
criticism, and to provide credit where it is due. We will definitely share 
our final findings report with Blackboard in hopes that it may be useful in 
improving accessibility in future releases.

Mike

p.s. If anyone has had opportunity to test Blackboard with Window-Eyes, I'd 
be interested to hear your results...

> Greg Ritter of Blackboard just gave a presentation on the 
> current and future accessibility status of Blackboard 
> yesterday at the CSUN Conference in Los Angeles. You can 
> read a synopsis at 
> http://www.csun.edu/cod/conf2002/proceedings/233.htm.
> 
> WebAIM has provided Blackboard with some consulting, 
> training, and evaluation services, as has EASI, and 
> Blackboard is involved with the SALT project, which helps 
> to set standards for accessibility of educational content.  
> 
> This doesn't mean that the accessibility of the product has 
> been perfect, as explained in the conference presentation, 
> but it does mean that they are making an effort and are on 
> the right track. 
> 
> Your feedback of specific points is useful as constructive 
> criticism to their developers. It's always good to have 
> external evaluators of products such as this. It raises the 
> bar in terms of customer satisfaction. I would encourage 
> you to pass on the results of your more formal study to the 
> Blackboard developers (see the conference link above for 
> contact info). 
> 
> Blackboard has prepared accessibility information on their 
> product at http://access.blackboard.com. One of the most 
> useful features of this site is the Blackboard screen 
> reader tutorial. During testing, it was found that user 
> orientation was one of the biggest accessibility problems, 
> so the document was created to help screen readers orient 
> themselves within the program. It's true that it would be 
> better if the orientation problems didn't occur in the 
> first place, but for current users of the product, this may 
> be useful still.
> 
> Greg explained some of the improvements that are in the 
> forthcoming Blackboard 6.0. They have simplified the 
> interface and have created an entirely new chat/whiteboard 
> program from scratch. I haven't yet been able to use it, 
> but the intent was to design it with accessibility in mind. 
> Hopefully it will fulfill that design goal.
> 
> Although it often takes longer to convince corporate 
> entities of the need for accessibility, many of them are 
> making strides in the right direction. There's nothing 
> wrong with pointing out their shortcomings. There is 
> nothing wrong with praising them for their successes either.
> 
> Paul Bohman
> 
> 
>> In a project with a local community college, I have been 
> working to provide 
>> Blackboard-based on-line courses to students with 
> disabilites. In a 
>> nutshell, the accessibility of the Blackboard 5.5 system 
> has been extremely 
>> disappointing 
>> Mike
>> 
Received on Friday, 22 March 2002 15:30:40 GMT

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