WebCT Accessibility Interest Group

Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services (CITES) and Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES)

University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign

Evaluation of WebCT

Accessibility Evaluation Form

To examine the accessibility of WebCT modules we use an online form called Accessibility Evaluation Form. This evaluation form is based on the HTML Best Practices. We organize accessibility problems in the following categories:

  1. Navigation and Orientation
  2. Text Equivalence
  3. Scripting and Automation
  4. Styling
  5. Standards

Accessibility Evaluation Reports

Members of WebCT Accessibility Consortium have evaluated the following commonly used modules. Each module is associated with one or more reports. Click on each report to read accessibility feedback associated with that module.
Summary of reported accessibility problems within WebCT environment along with their status follow this section.

Syllabus

Evaluators

Reports

Announcements

Evaluators

Reports

Assessments

Evaluators

Reports

Assignments

Evaluators

Reports

Calendar

Evaluators

Reports

Discussions

Evaluators

Reports

Learning Modules

Evaluators

Reports

Goals

Evaluators

Reports

Mail

Evaluators

Reports

Media Library

Evaluators

Reports

Grade Book

Evaluators

Reports

Summary of reported Accessibility Problems

As we all know, our priority fixes are not always inline with WebCT priority fixes and the way how we compile our accessibility reports is not exactly as WebCt bug tracking system. Furthermore, we do not have all necessary tools to record all interactions and communications with WebCT development teams. Currently, Robert Dumas, our friend and contact at WebCT compiles his own report based on the accessibility issues we reported in our reports or discussed in the WebCT teleconferences. Then based on his judgment and workload of his team and the severity of the reported problems, he prioritized them and passed them to the appropriate development teams for possible fixes.

We do not have any organized mean to follow up with the reported problems after we discuss them with Robert and at this time, as mentioned above, we don't have the necessary tools to record all relevant bug/issue tracking system. Jon and I have Discussed the need for such tool but at this time we haven't come up with a reasonable solution or resource for it.

As an alternative, until we have a good solution for this problem, I am going to record some of the relevant interactions Regarding the reported issues in a kind of static way.

Some of the details I am going to record are:

There are more relevant data that can be collected but for now I think we are collecting enough data. If you think there is any other data that you think we must collect please let me know. In the next days I will try to verify the status of all the problems listed below with Robert and populate the fields accordingly.

The problems are be organized in the following categories:

Navigation and Orientation

Missing Title across all tested modules

Regardless of your location in WebCt environment, the title of the page says "WebCT". The title element should uniquely Identify your location so at any time user know where he/she is at.

Too lengthy headings for navigation bars

The H2 headings for navigation bars are unnecessarily too lengthy. They can be changed to Course tools and My Tools and the graphical icons for expand and collapse can be detached from the heading while maintaining their current alt tags values.

Multiple instances of H1 Element

In the Quiz page, there is 2 instances of H1 elements namely the subject of the quiz and "View Assessment (Navigation Bar)". The second one needs to change to an H2 element.

Difficulty identifying and navigating to a tab

Build, Teach and Student views are not easily identifiable or navigatable for screen reader users. To make it more clear to screen reader users, add the word "tab" to each of the above views, e.g. Build Tab, Teach Tab, or Student Tab. The title Element should also contain information about the current tab, for example, if you are in build view and in Discussion module, the title should say something like: Discussion; Build Tab. Due to the nature of frame-based application, maybe it is not possible to implement this but as an intermediate solution we recommend that the H1 element convey similar information.

Missing LABELs for form controls

Across relevant modules such as Mail, Assignment, Assessment, Goals, etc, almost everywhere where form controls are used, you find one or more controls that do not have proper LABEL.

Lack of function to define the input language

In some modules like Assessments or Assignments it happens that students need to write in a language other than the default language (English). There is no mean to define the input language. If the reader of the information that is not tagged with proper language definition is a screen reader user, then he/she won't be able to read the information in the proper language mode.

Missing ID/HEADERS associations in data tables

Data tables are used frequently in many modules such as Assignments, Assessments, Discussions, Mail, etc. The lack of ID/HEADERS associations makes it difficult or sometimes impossible for screen reader users to associate a given data cell with its corresponding column and/or row headings.

Multiple occurrences of link texts (Assessments)

In Assessments module for the applicable actions for any given quizzes, it says: ActionLinks for this Item. This can be very confusing if multiple quizzes are available. To make it more understandable to everyone, change to alt tag so it includes the subject of the assessment, e.g. action for Illinois Geographic Trivia". There are similar problems with Begin Assessments and the Help (inside the quiz itself) buttons.

Problem with question status in a quiz

In the quiz page, the links "Save answer" saves each individual question. To make it more generally accessible, I suggest to include the question number in the link text, e.g. it says: Save answer 3.

Problem with Question Status

In the Quiz page itself, the "Question Status" section is not usable in the current format with screen readers. A potential solution is display the status of each question to the left of the question either in the pace where the question text are written or in a separate table, or both places (inline with the question text and in a separate table).

Excessive use of frames in particular nested frames.

Frames are used excessively in the WebCt application. Some of the frames are also nested and navigation in such environment is very difficult to navigate even all frames are named. We have been told that overtime WebCt will be moving to a frame-less environment but we just wanted to record this issue anyway.

Text Equivalence

Missing Alt tag

Across WebCT application, occasionally we find informational icons or graphical links with no alt tag value. In particular you find such icons in the home page of a given course. The types of the available documents are identified by icons, for example, icons that indicate that a particular document is an assignment, assessment, or etc.

Unmatched on-screen and ALT attribute values

In Discussion module The alt/title attribute for the Preview button (the button after Post) module do not match the on-screen label (Preview). Instead it says "Link: opens in new window). Screen reader can not display both on-screen label and title/at attributes at the same time. To resolve this issue, the alt/title attributes should include the on-screen value as well. E.g. it should say: Preview (opens in new window).

Alt tag value for toggle switches

The Alt tag used for a graphical link in modules such as Assessments: "Expand/Collapse Description Description" can be very confusing because users do not know the state of the menu (expanded/collapsed). Use two different icons with two different alt tags such as "Expand description" or "Collapse description" instead.

Scripting and Automation

Mouse-driven actions without sufficient support for keyboard

In some modules in particular in Mail, Discussion there is no way that a keyboard user can select a mail to read. This is a big problem and this makes the entire module completely inaccessible.

Enable HTML Creater is inaccessible

This java-based function is used frequently across several modules such as Assignments, Mail, Discussion, etc. No alternative function is offered for this function. This function is completely inaccessible for any keyboard user. Once user gets in the editing environment, there is no way to get out of it with keyboard.

Uncontrolled Session time-out

User has no control over their active sessions. Some users with disabilities need longer time to perform some tasks and an undesired session time-out can cause very serious problems for them.

Styling

Incomplete CSS-based styling

WebCT has improved the styling significantly in Vista 4. The pages I have tested have around 73% CSS styling. This is really good but there is still some way to go.

Content doesn't reflow when font-size changed

The lack of incomplete CSS-driven styling causes that the content doesn't reflow when browser zooming features like font-size is enlarged.

Content doesn't reflow when Windows resizing changed

The lack of incomplete CSS-driven styling causes that the content doesn't reflow when windows is resized.

Problem with High contrast view

In tested modules in particular with Assignment, Goals, Mail, etc you cannot view the page in high contrast mode. The page becomes distorted and sometimes foreground and background colors become the same.

Standards

No default language definition

Setting a default language definition is very important for screen reader users. If a screen reader user with default language other than English views any WebCT pages, there is no mechanism to tell the screen reader program to switch to English automatically.

No default character set definition

Setting the character set definition tells browser what character set to use to display the content. It is also very important for Braille user to read the content in the Braille code they are familiar with.