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Making WebCT Accessible for All Users. "The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect." Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web. "The world is harder when it is not conceived for you.".

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"The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect."

Tim Berners-Lee,

W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web

the world is harder when it is not conceived for you
"The world is harder when it is not conceived foryou."

types of alternate technology
Types of Alternate Technology
  • Screen readers
  • Screen magnifiers
  • Alternate input devices (keyboards, switches, etc.)
  • On-screen keyboards
  • Voice recognition
universal design
Universal Design

The design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.

strategies for accessibility
Strategies for Accessibility
  • Present information in multiple formats
    • Visual/auditory, graphic/text
  • Duplicate functions in two methodologies
    • Form/e-mail, table/no table, color/no color
  • Test site for accessibility
webct challenges
WebCT Challenges
  • Frames on page are especially difficult for individuals using screen readers.
  • Specific tools in WebCT are not universally accessible, for example: Chat and Whiteboard.
  • Popup windows and new browser windows are a barrier.
Images without alt tags such as ‘Banners’ are a barrier.
  • The close placement of some navigation elements is difficult, especially for individuals with motor difficulties.

Accessibility, Usability and the Disabled Student

chat solutions
“Chat” Solutions

One option is to link to an outside chat tool that is accessible while staying inside WebCT.

The three recommended chat tools follow:

1. Naken Chat (Sweden):

2. The Learning Disabilities Resource Center (Canada):

3. Accessible Chat (University of Toronto - Ontario, Canada)

whiteboard solutions
“Whiteboard” Solutions

WebCT has developed an accessible interface for the Whiteboard feature.

Warning: If you are using Windows Internet Explorer and you have installed a Java plug-in and configured it as the default Java Virtual Machine, Whiteboard may not appear with the accessible interface.

  • From myWebCT, click the Change Preferences link. The Change Preferences screen appears.
  • Under Change Accessibility Preferences, select Use accessible interface for Whiteboard.
  • Click Update. A confirmation screen appears.
  • Click Continue. The Whiteboard will appear with the accessible interface.
For more whiteboard instructions, go to

accessible webct customizing course appearance
Accessible WebCTCustomizing Course Appearance
  • Use high contrast colors
    • Red/green colorblindness
    • Low vision
    • Check your site
Don’t depend on color to convey meaning
    • Use BOLD or numerical sequence
      • (1, 2, 3)
    • Use numbers to designate sub-points:
      • A1, A2, etc.
      • 1.1, 1.2, 1.3. etc.
Use readable fonts in the WebCT default size
    • when naming a link or typing text in a textblock, use the WebCT default settings rather than specifying font colors and sizes.
    • If you specify anything regarding <font> e.g. <font color="brown"> the text size becomes fixed. The same happens if you include any HTML code within an organizer page. This prevents users from increasing the font size in their browser to view the page.
Avoid clutter and competing images
  • Background images confuse screen readers and some sighted users
Keep navigation simple and clear
  • Name links clearly (avoid “click here” or “link 1” “link 2” etc.)
  • Keep headings and titles consistent throughout site
Some WebCT tools such as "Add Single Page" give you the choice to open links in the same window or in a new one. Where you are given the choice, always open links in the same window.
If you use the "Add Link" option, always select

"Link Opens in Main Window"

This will prevent confusion for some users with visual impairments or learning disabilities and will allow accessible browsers to follow the links.

text descriptions of graphics
Text Descriptions of Graphics

Icons added on main pages

WebCT will automatically generate "alt" text for icons added to Course Home Page or Tool Pages. The "alt" text is generated based on the text entered in the "title" field for the icon. If you add a text title, this will result in the title being read twice.

Include text descriptions of graphics

Graphics inserted in WebCT need an <ALT> tag, text description, or <long desc> to explain the graphic.

Associate text descriptions with icons that do not have an ALT tag

Put the corresponding text to the right (or left) of the icon rather than below (or above) it in organizer pages.

That way, when visually impaired users access the page using a screen reader, they will get a label following each image rather than a series of images followed by a series of labels. From the home page, select "Organize Icons" and then "Layout". Select the radio button for "Label Position: Left (or Right) of Icon" and press the "Update" button.

You CAN permanently remove the left frame (unfortunately not the top one).

On the control panel, choose \'Change settings\' and at the bottom of the page check \'Hide Left Frame\' before clicking \'Go\'. The online course will appear without the left frame both for you and your students.

Provide alternate formats of the same document
  • doc, rtf, .txt, pdf, ppt, html w/ALT tags
extended time test
Extended Time Test
  • The most common method is to duplicate the quiz, set the extended time and then use selective release to restrict the quiz to only certain students.
  • Then in the grade book since there are now two columns for the same quiz, create a third column that combines the two columns. Release this third column to all the students while hiding the original two quiz columns. Either the SUM or MAX function will work for combining the columns.
accessible course content
Accessible Course Content

You can add any file type to WebCT, however, your students must have the right software to open your file.

The golden rule to help students to be able to use files is to provide two versions of the same file.

accessible html pages
Accessible HTML Pages
  • Images & animations:Use the alt attribute to describe the function of each visual.
  • Image maps. Use the client-side map and text for hotspots.
  • Multimedia. Provide captioning and transcripts of audio, and descriptions of video.
Hypertext links. Use text that makes sense when read out of context. For example, avoid "click here."
  • Page organization. Use headings, lists, and consistent structure. Use CSS for layout and style where possible.
  • Graphs & charts. Summarize or use the longdesc attribute.
  • Scripts, applets, & plug-ins. Provide alternative content in case active features are inaccessible or unsupported.
Frames. Use the noframes element and meaningful titles.
  • Tables. Make line-by-line reading sensible. Summarize.
  • Check your work. Validate. Use tools, checklist, and guidelines at at the end of this program.
accessible word documents
Accessible Word Documents
  • Save Word files as .rtf
    • Will open in other applications
    • Easier for screen readers to interpret
    • Use “Styles and Formatting” button to set type styles
    • Include text descriptions of graphics
Math problems created in Microsoft Equation Editor are not readable with a text reader program. Be prepared to provide an alternative copy with problems written out in text if needed.
  • An ALT tag for each problem with the problem in text is also an option

Find the square root of 36, then divide that by 2, then multiply the answer by 3.

  • Divide 36 by 2, find the square root of the answer, then multiply that by 3.
  • Multiply 2 times 3, divide the answer into 36, then find the square root of that number.
  • Divide the square root of 36 by the product of 2 times 3.
accessible powerpoint files
Accessible PowerPoint Files
  • Choose high contrast colors for text and background.
  • Provide two formats of your PowerPoint on WebCT - one as a PowerPoint presentation (.ppt) and one as an Outline/RTF (.rtf).
  • Offer one PowerPoint file for printing that opens in a New Window. Students can not print the files if you do not do this.
Provide ALT tags for all graphics in the PowerPoint presentation by right mouse clicking on the graphic and selecting Format Picture then Web tab.
  • Avoid converting PowerPoint to HTML.
accessible pdf documents
Accessible PDF Documents

Convert PDFs to accessible HTML or a Word RTF file. Offer both file types.

  • PDFs are good for those using screen magnification and for printing.
  • PDFs are not good for screen reading software (as used by blind users). Although Acrobat 7 now works with screen readers, it is still too early to promote the general use of PDFs.
accessible flash and video
Accessible Flash and Video
  • Provide text captioning or transcripts for all Flash and Video
  • Provide information about how to obtain plugins.
    • For example: “To view this exercise you will require Flash. To install the plug-in visit http://”.
  • London Metropolitan University
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Evergreen Valley College
  • The Ultimate WebCT Handbook
  • University of Aberdeen
website checkers
Website Checkers
  • A-Prompt
    • A-Prompt is a tool that identifies potential accessibility problems and provides guided editing to correct the problems.
  • Bobby
    • Bobby is an online or downloadable accessibility checker that provides a semi-automated assessment of accessibility problems on a Web page or group of Web pages. It can identify many problems on sites and also lists problems that it is not able to evaluate automatically, which would require manual review.
Functional Accessibility Evaluator
    • The Functional Accessibility Evaluator (FAE) analyzes web resources for markup that is consistent with the use of best practices for development of functionally accessible web resources that also support interoperability.
  • MAGpie
    • MAGpie is an authoring tool for creating captions and audio descriptions for rich media.
SSB Technologies
    • SSB Technologies provides tools to make Web sites, Intranets, and Web-enabled applications accessible for people with disabilities. SSB Technologies features Section 508 compliance and web accessibility solutions.
  • WAVE
    • WAVE is an online accessibility assessment tool that flags any items on a Web page which should be examined for potential accessibility problems, and provides a description of what the problem might be.
Presented by

Carol Pope

Asst. Dir. for disAbled Student Support Services

Kennesaw State University

September, 2006