WebCT Accessibility Interest Group

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

University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign

All Teleconferences

Teleconference Information

Date: 2006-08-21

Time: 1:30 PM


Hi Everyone,

Hope you all have enjoyed the summer so far and ready for the new term/semester.

We haven't had any teleconference for almost 2 months. In our last teleconference we talked about having one after the WebCT conference in Chicago.
I know the new semester starts soon and probably everyone will be very busy but I hope you can still schedule an hour meeting in your busy schedule.

As you know Vista 4 has been released and the great news is that many of accessibility improvement suggestions we all worked on and were submited to the development team by Robert got implemented. Unfortunately, some of the features got only partially implemented or got lost at the developer desks.

At this stage it is important to identify those partically or forgotten improvement suggestions and bring them to the QA and developers's attention and work with them closely to resolve them. I have asked Robert, if possible, to invite his colleagues from the development and QA departments to our meeting to discuss the outstanding issues and hopefully find a way that those problems could be implemented correctly as it was intended.
I believe Robert's improvement suggestion somehow got messed up in the coding process and apparently QA department hasn't incorporated completely the accessibility testing in their process to catch the potential accessibility problem.

So let us please meet on Monday Auggust 21st at 1:30 PM Chicago time to discuss how we can effectively work on the outstanding issues.

Date: Monday August 21st
Time: 1:30 PM CDT (Chicago time)
Phone: 217 244-7532

Robert has opened access to a Vista 4 server but he hasn't specified if other members can use it. Robert, would you mind if I pass it along to the mailing list so the interested members can look into and explorer it.



Teleconference notes, 21 August 2006

Kim Wilcox, University of Minnesota, recording.


Kimerly J Wilcox, University of Minnesota 

Philip Kragnes, University of Minnesota 

David Schwarte, Purdue University

Robert Dumas, WebCT 

Saroj Primlani, North Carolina State University

Jon Gunderson, University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign

Hadi Bargi Rangin, University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign


1.      Report on WebCT Conference

Phil: They were pleased by the turnout of about 60 people.  They gave an update, some issues were raised that people hadn't thought about, and there was
good give-and-take among the panelists and between panelists and audience.

Patent issue: We are working on techniques for accessibility.  Would Blackboard (BB) be trying to patent these? In meetings with BB on accessibility, they
were assured that this wouldn't happen but it's probably not his [Robert's?] decision.

Jon: The Accessibility Evaluator and Microsoft Accessibility Plug-ins came up at the session.

2.      Vista 4 Release

Hadi: Some of the features we worked on are there, some aren't.  For example, headings on the myWebCT page, some others.  Also, using Mozilla, Hadi can't
click the Build, Teach, and Student View tabs.

Saroj: Has there been any alignment of policy?

Robert: There is a list of functional testing procedures on the Web site that they are supposed to use, but he doesn't know if it is actually done.  There
is a lot of personnel shuffling going on now at BB/WebCT, so it is hard to get a Quality Assurance person to our meetings.

Phil: [Is clicking the Build, Teach, Student View tabs] a JAWS issue?

Hadi: Doesn't think so.  It doesn't work in Mozilla, but works in IE.

Jon: Robert needs to verify this on his end.

Hadi: He sent the issues to Robert, but hasn't posted them yet; these include missing Alt tags, Who is Online, course Home Page, others.

3.      Robert gave us access to a new Vista 4 demo site; Hadi will send the information to the mailing list.

4.      Re-evaluation.  Anyone who can do some of this on the Vista 4 site, please do so.

Phil: Do the QA people and BB/WebCT testers need a workshop to understand the issues and know how to do the testing?

Robert: This is a good idea; BB has done it in the past.  He will check on budget for this.

5.      Authoring tools in WebCT and Accessibility.

Jon: He is grateful for the improvements in accessibility, but now we need to look at usability issues as well.  Can instructors create accessible content? 
Most people think their stuff is accessible until they are told otherwise!

WebCT needs to give instructors information about accessibility of their content, and tell them how to make it accessible.  How do the authoring tools support
accessible design?  Ideally, WebCT would provide automatic accessibility when the authoring tools are used.

[not sure who said this] In the future, students will be allowed to add content.  This will add an additional layer of complexity.

Saroj: It is difficult to use third-party evaluators on content that is already in a BB/WebCT site.

Could an evaluator be built in?  For example, it could identify any images without alt tags.  

Jon[?]: The Functional Accessibility Evaluator tool could be built in as a toolbar.  Working on Web interface, could make it available to WebCT.

Jon: We want authoring tools that make it easier to create accessible content than inaccessible content.  As a first step, WebCT could tell instructors
when their content is not accessible.  Then, we hope that BB/WebCT ( and third-party vendors) will provide improved authoring tools that make it easier
to create accessible content.

Saroj: Course Genie takes a Word document and turns it into accessible HTML.  Now they are using it in Wimba.

Hadi: BB talk [?]  If uploading a PowerPoint, Word, or HTML document, you get a message that "this is not quite accessible but here are the tools."  We'd
like BB/WebCT to partner with us on such tools.

Robert: It would be possible that when you upload, you get a reminder to check for accessibility, provide links to resources.  That would be an easy fix.

Jon: We need authoring tools that check automatically.  Acrobat [I missed whatever the content was here.]  Flash is not accessible.

AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is a new class of Web technology.  It is an XHTML protocol; it allows asynchronous conversations between the browser
and the server.  [Here is an article I found: 
"Rich Web Applications" allow legacy code to show structure, interact with an accessibility API.  IBM supported W3C standards in Firefox.  [I'm quite sure
I've garbled this last part as I have no understanding of these topics!]

Hadi: Authoring tools for accessibility in Teach and Build tabs.

6.      Next Steps.

Jon: What are the next steps?  What can we do to help?

Robert: Continuing to communicate about our needs.  They will be looking at AJAX, but accessibility is the biggest stumbling block.  The best approach is
to work on authoring tools within WebCT, and to form a consortium with third-party vendors. 

Saroj: Will BB be at Educause?  They could initiate a meeting with the vendors.  BB has a better chance of pulling it off.  We can help with the nuances
and testing.

Robert: This group can generate a list of vendors, keep it as an agenda item.  At the next Educause, he can check our list against the vendors who will
be there, and invite them to meet.

[not sure who was speaking in the following exchange] We can run this by our CIOs.  But CIOs don't think accessibility is important .  CIOs are influenced
by deans, so the deans need to be pushing for change.  We also can ask the CIOs to meet at Educause.  

Phil: What about Best Practices?  Do's and Don't's?  Adobe has a page.

Jon: He has a list.  We need to look at WebCT documentation, best practices.

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