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: 2006-09-11

Time: 1:30 PM CDT


Hello everyone,

This is just a reminder for our next WebCT teleconference:

Date: Monday September 11
Time: 1:30 PM CDT (Chicago time)
Phone: 217 244-7532

In our last teleconference, we agreed to dedicate our next teleconference discussion to documentations and best practices for all groups of users namely students as end-users, instructors and TAs, and of course, the course builders.
It will be nice if more people like Kostas who are involved in supporting the WebCT application and deal with all groups of users participate in our next teleconference. You might want to invite people from your WebCT Support Group to our teleconference.



Notes for WebCT Teleconference on 09/11/2006

* Philip Kragnes, University of Minnesota
* David Schwarte, Purdue University 
* Kostas Yfantis, University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign
* Jon Gunderson, University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign
* Robert dumas, WebCT/Blackboard
* Kim Wilcox, University of Minnesota
* Jenny Blaine, University of Minnesota
* Lisa Fiedor, North Carolina State University
* Hadi Rangin, University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign

* Saroj Primlani,North Carolina State University
* Marsha Allen, Georgia Institute of Technology

Documentation issues feedback:

Phil: Since Kostas and Jenny provide a lot of support to students, what are some common problems.

Biggest support volume near the beginning of semesters.

Frequently hear issue: Students are not able to download docs from IE. Many files are made available that are xls, ppt, other types. When IE security settings
are high students cannot download. They have to change security settings to allow downloads.

General question: Who requires students to go through a 1-2 hour orientation?
- no, IA does not require for students, they did require for instructors. They have self-paced tutorials for students

UMN centrally does not require anything, some departments require tutorials, though, for students to enter online classes (Nursing, Public Heath)

Purdue does not require anything either - there are tutorials and classes for instructors

NC State is the same

Concern: how do students find out about the tutorials.

Is the tutorial accessible? If it's in Flash -

Phil has had only two or three people come in for training. Phil thinks it may be because those students have already gotten alternative methods.

Not sure who is talking: seems many students are not ready for college in terms of screenreader skills.

Phil: maybe an accessibility tutorial in cassette or CD format

Hadi: the problem with tutorial in flash is a local problem.
Does WebCT offer any kind of interactive help for students?

Robert: There is contextual online help. One of the main areas is accessibility. General practices for instructors. The help is not that interactive.

Hadi: For general users, is there interactive help? Not just accessibility help.

Hadi has used the Help button. For example, in discussions, he has used the help.

Robert: There is built-in help about accessibility

Kim: On the hompage in a course, the help that comes up is just about the homepage. How would one find accessibility help.

Robert:  Need to click Contents:

Kim: Not easy to find the help about accessibility in vista 3

Jon: I typed screenreader and found a lot of stuff on Help for Vista 4. Seems best to focus on commenting on Vista 4 rather than on Vista 3.

Robert: When I start talking about something, I.m assuming the latest version of Vista, Vista 4 or CE 6

Jon: perhaps we should assign people to look at Vista 4 features. Link to accessibility goes just t a web site

Robert: link is not there yet because the web sites are being merged.

Jon: what about scenario-based instructions: such as extending a quiz for a particular student.

Jon: should have  people check over current documentation

Hadi: would be glad to take care of some of the issues and organize the team. Knows at least three cases where he was working with local instructors. A
new instructor wanted to use webct and took the workshop, but she was not able to set up her course. She was having a lot of trouble.

Robert: even though she read whatever help was available, it wasn't helpful?

Jon: do you know what part of the creation process was a problem?

Hadi: uploading and naming a file - suggesting a "help: what is this" so the user doesn't have to search all of the help files for that information

Robert: Hadi is saying maybe make it more obvious that help is available inside the tool. Make the help button appear down within the tool itself.

Hadi: make help buttons in the help about that specific function = what is this button
Some people integrate the basics of accessibility into training workshops.

Phil: The web accessibility CD he created is distributed in the courses.
Kim does a 1-hour Vista faculty orientation. When she teaches, she always mentions accessibility.

Kostas does a workshop where they give out the handout about the accessibility wizard(?), their homegrown product.

Hadi: When teaching about uploading the files, mentions that some files can create accessibility files

Kostas: we do emphasize the importance of using the best file type. They do not show how to create accessibility compliant HTML. They emphasize using HTML
and DreamWeaver.

Phil: this goes back to what Jon has said many times, problems with faculty using Word to create HTML docs. When we talk about tutorials and creation, the
webct environment is just one factor. Links to sources of information and tutorials about styles, etc.

Hadi: For those who are familiar with Blackboard - blackboard offers perhaps a better editing environment. Are there plans to make the blackboard type style
available in webct? Robert - will have to look into it.

Jon: Doesn't think MS word is an appropriate front end. Need tools that make documents that are accessible by default. Want WebCT and Blackboard support
this accessible by default.

More discussion of an authoring tool that creates accessible docs by default.

Phil: the newer professors coming in would be likely to

Kim: Can.t automate the whole thing, right?

Jon: in Word, have to use the style option

Kim: People still need to know how to do all of that.

Jon: As soon as people need training, that.s where we lose a lot. There are some people in IL. Their authoring interface makes it easier for people to create
accessible content than inaccessible content. This company showed dramatic increases in accessibility with their authoring interface even with accessibility

What do we want from WebCT Blackboard?

Phil: when you upload a document, it uses the title as heading tag within webct? Several CMS products we.re evaluating require Alt text - if no ALT text
can't go any farther.
EMC Documentum

Robert: Obviously ways to create content in WebCT. BUt more often than not people are uploading things they already have. The trick is that somehow we have
to identify the uploaded document, then have something that parses the document into accessibility.

Need to spread awareness.

People didn't care about headers until the wizard told them they didn't have headers. Need tools that analyze documents for accessibility issues.

Hadi: Depends on the audience - the instructor might not care as much as the webmaster

Jon: If the instructor is notified that his materials are inaccessible. Suggesting that the CMS start reporting on accessibility information. Then people
cannot say that they did not know their material is not accessible.

When should the next teleconference be? Next week? Two weeks? Sept 25 works for everyone. Phil won.t be here

Hadi: Asks Robert, what should we do to help? Would prefer to discuss via the list so when we get to the teleconference we.ll be ready to go.

Robert: should we go through the help and note where there are problems? Or where accessibility information could be enhanced.

Phil: two threads: the content and then future approaches. Identification, information, editing, repair. Could at least generate ideas.

Kim: that.s fine, not quite sure what we need to do - sometimes it.s hard to know whether help is useful or not until you run across a problem and see if
help helps. Looking for accessible issues in the help topics?

Jon: probably a lot of work that could be done on reorganizing the accessibility section. Thinks the documentation could include a list of accessibility
features in vista 4

Titling and header information problems in Vista 4 - add to agenda?

Phil: helpful to a user to see general accessibility stuff, then information for Screenreader users, screen magnifier users, etc.

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