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Accessibility and Course Management Systems Marsha Allen – CTRS, Web Manager Center for Assistive Technology & Environmental Access (CATEA) College of Architecture, Georgia Tech 404-894-4960 (voice/tty) 404-894-9320 (fax) [email protected] Sponsored By.

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Accessibility and Course Management SystemsMarsha Allen – CTRS, Web ManagerCenter for Assistive Technology & Environmental Access (CATEA) College of Architecture, Georgia Tech404-894-4960 (voice/tty) 404-894-9320 (fax)[email protected]
sponsored by
Sponsored By

(GRADE) Georgia Tech Research on Accessible Distance Education

  • Training and Research
  • Fact Sheets & Technical assistance
  • Accessible Course Models
  • Guidelines for Accessible Online Materials

Office of Post Secondary Education (OPE),

U.S. Dept. of Education, Grant #P333A020050.


Access Plan










southeast disability and business technical assistance center
Southeast Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center
  • One of 10 regional centers funded by NIDRR, U.S. Dept of Education.
  • Technical assistance and training on ADA and Accessible IT in Education.

Contact Your Regional ADA & IT Center

800-949-4232 (v/tty)

800-949-4232(v/tty) 404-385-0641(fax)

  • Identify 3 barriers in a course management system.
  • Describe 2 techniques for creating and posting accessible content in a course management system.
  • State 3 resources on accessibility in course management systems.
news flash
  • WebCT and Blackboard signed a formal agreement expressing intent to merge companies.
  • Merger to be finalized later this year or early next year, subject to regulatory and other approvals.
  • Combined company will be named Blackboard and led by Blackboard President and CEO, Michael Chasen.
what is disability

Blind/Low Vision

Deaf/Hard of Hearing




Learning Disability

Head/Brain Injury





Temporarily able-bodied

Attitudes are the real disability: people first!

What is Disability?
students with disabilities in k 12
Students with Disabilities in K-12
  • 1 in 12 (5.2 million) in U.S. have disability.
  • 2x special education vs. overall school enrollment.
  • Percentage graduating from high school with diploma has risen steadily in recent years.

Source: US Census, 2000

students with disabilities in higher education
Students with Disabilities in Higher Education
  • 9% (1.3 million) college freshmen with disability; tripled over the last 20 years.

Source: American Council on Education, 2004

  • Disability 1st identified in postsecondary level:
    • 31% Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD)

Source: NCSPES, 2002

    • 44% Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

Source: NCD People with Disabilities & Postsecondary Ed, 2003

disability and computer access
Disability and Computer Access
  • 49% Internet changed lives.
  • Spend 2x as many hours online and using email.
  • Over 50% owners use for educational applications.
  • Largest niche of online buyers, i.e. Silver Surfer
“Universal design of instructional materials and activities makes the learning goals achievable by individuals with wide differences in their abilities to see, hear, speak, move, read, write, understand English, attend, organize, engage, and remember. This is built into the design and systems and not added on after-the-fact.”

Source: Council for Exceptional Children

business case for accessibility better usability
Business Case for Accessibility: Better Usability
  • What is required for access by users with disabilities improves flexibility for all users:
    • Well-organized content
      • Screen readers rely and improves readability.
    • Proper structure and adjustable font size
      • Screen magnifiers to reflow text and flexible varying screens.
    • Keyboard shortcuts
      • Users without mouse and increased productivity.
business case for accessibility better usability1
Business Case for Accessibility: Better Usability
  • Usability redesign: 100% increase sales/conversion.
  • Captioning helps language and learning.
  • Compatibility across technology versions.
  • More effective from start vs. scramble-fix.
  • Decreased download time.
business case for accessibility make save
Business Case for Accessibility: Make/Save $$$
  • More people using site; tap into affluent niches
    • i.e. Baby Boomers, PDAs, phones.
  • Positive, free publicity
    • Socially responsible; standards compliance.
  • Easier to manage
    • Separate content from presentation.
  • Avoid time, cost, and stress to retrofit later.
  • Avoid potential litigation.
news flash1
  • U.S. Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently received complaints from 3 students concerning access to higher education courses.
  • Two complaints relate to distance learning courses offered by two on-line Universities:
    • Walden University: accessibility of Blackboard platform.
    • Capella University: access to WebCT.
laws and standards for accessibility
Laws and Standards for Accessibility
  • Federal Law
    • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
    • Americans with Disabilities Act
    • Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • State Laws on Accessibility (list from ITTATC Project)
  • Standards and Guidelines
    • W3C World Wide Web Consortium Guidelines

    • IMS Guidelines for Accessible Learning Applications
section 504 of the rehabilitation act
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • Different chapters, titles, sections etc.
  • Title 29, Chapter 16, Section 794
    • 504: Nondiscrimination under Federal grants and programs

    • 504: Findings and purposes
      • Needs for AT to help those with disabilities access information.
      • Information (electronic) needs to be accessible so AT will work.

americans with disabilities act
Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Passed 1990 before Internet.
  • Title II
    • Applies to any local, state, and public organizations as well its activities, services, and programs.
    • Effective communication applies to Internet per Department of Justice.

w3c world wide web consortium guidelines
W3C: World Wide Web Consortium Guidelines
  • Global, industry-based initiative
  • Voluntary compliance
    • Web Content, User Agent, Authoring Tools, etc.

section 508 of the rehabilitation act
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • Federal departments must:
    • Accommodate employees with disabilities.
    • Design accessible websites.
    • Procure accessible information technology.
  • Interpreted applicable to state entities, including public colleges and universities.

if section 508 adopted as policy
If Section 508 adopted as policy …
  • For 504: likely demonstrate ”nondiscrimination and AT access” requirement.
  • For ADA: likely demonstrate compliance with “effective communication” requirement.
  • For W3C WCAG: likely meet minimum Level A, Priority 1 of which 508 was based.
access guidelines for distance learning
Access Guidelines for Distance Learning
  • Developed by GRADE Project and MERLOT
  • Format: Must, Should, May
    • PDF Files
    • Excel Documents
    • Flash Applications
    • PowerPoint Files
    • Video and Media
    • Word Documents

barriers to access in course management systems
Barriers to Access in Course Management Systems
  • Generally occur when CMS or posted materials are not designed to interact with assistive technology.
what is assistive technology at
What is Assistive Technology (AT)?
  • Assists a person with a disability in performing a task that most people can do without such technology.

barriers in webct
Barriers in WebCT
  • Lack of tutorial on using WebCT with AT.
  • Frames-based interface.
  • Inaccessible tools such as Chat, Whiteboard, etc.
  • Pop-up windows and content in new windows.
  • Adding images but no option for alternative text.
  • Close placement of elements difficult.
frames in webct
Frames in WebCT
  • Each as separate web page makes difficult for screenreaders and refreshable Braille displays to access.
  • Examples of Frames:
    • Inaccessible Frames: Yours is a Very Bad
    • Accessible Frames: University of Washington
mouse only commands
Mouse Only Commands
  • Inaccessible to users not using a mouse due to disability or environment:
    • PDA
    • Cell-phone
    • Other mobile and web-enabled devices
    • Keyboard
    • One-hand, hands-free
timed responses
Timed Responses
  • Affects users who need extra time for reading and writing:
    • Physical or cognitive disabilities
    • Slow connection
    • English as second language
  • Difficulty or unable to effectively participate in “chat” as pace too fast.
  • Inform user and offer option for extended time.

** In WebCT, adjust time for class but not individual student.

webct and physical impairment
WebCT and Physical Impairment
  • Login through Opera to use header navigation and list of links.
    • Browser not supported message.
    • If try to use anyway, cannot access all links.
    • Must use another browser which unfamiliar and less efficient plus may require download/install == more time.
readability context alternate format
Readability, Context, & Alternate Format
  • Aoccdrnig to a rscheearchr at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a tatol mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbeslm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh!
  • Cluttered, poorly organized, and inconsistent screen layouts decrease comprehension for students who have difficulty reading, writing, and processing information as well as screenreader users.
webct and learning disability
WebCT and Learning Disability
  • Difficulty in reading commonly results in accommodation of more time for tests.
    • Unable to readily adjust and apply time settings for individual students or course material.
screenreaders and text to speech software
Screenreaders and Text-to-Speech Software
  • Comprehension affected by content structure and reading order of technology as well as need for alternative text descriptions for visual materials, graphics, and media.
hearing is seeing
Hearing is Seeing …
  • Click here
  • Click here
  • Click here
  • Document
  • Here
  • Download
  • Screenreaders
  • Get
  • Information
  • One
  • Word
  • At
  • A
  • Time
  • And
  • By
  • Viewing
  • Links
  • Or
  • Headings
  • In
  • Page.
example of screenreader view of table
Example of Screenreader View of Table
  • “There is a 30% chance of Classes at the University of rain showers this morning, Wisconsin will resume on but they should stop before September 3rd. the weekend.”
operating system access features
Operating System Access Features
  • Accessibility Wizard
  • High Contrast
  • ShowSounds
  • Serial Keys
  • Mouse Keys
  • Keyboard:
    • Sticky, Bounce, Slow, Repeat
webct and visual impairment
WebCT and Visual Impairment
  • Login using IE with high contrast settings.
    • Lack of carryover for high contrast settings.
    • Need to “ignore” styles in browser accessibility options
    • Inconsistent application of user preferred size and color.
    • Lack of heading information for user orientation (since visual styling used).
webct and visual impairment1
WebCT and Visual Impairment
  • Teaching assistant using screenreader cannot easily navigate.
    • Frames with scrolling windows
    • Fixed heading size.
    • Result in more time and errors, esp. GRADE Book.
    • Tables lack id and association of header to data cells.
blackboard and visual impairment
Blackboard and Visual Impairment
  • Difficulty with login and navigation
    • Provide “alt-text” for buttons and images.
    • Make links distinct.
  • Posted materials not accessible.
    • Make accessible webpage.
    • Provide in text or accessible Word document.
  • Difficulty with digital drop-box to submit work
    • Allow student to email.
code for alt text of images
Code for Alt-text of Images


Federal Court Concepts

  • Alternative-text (alt-text) #1 solution
  • Provide same info by context


Letter entering mailbox


alt text of images
Alt-text of Images
  • When adding images in CMS, lack option for alternative text.
  • May need to edit code:


Federal Court Concepts

magnification software and cctv
Magnification Software and CCTV
  • Result in viewing small portion of screen.
  • Cluttered webpages and inconsistent formats make navigation and comprehension difficult.
seeing through others eyes
Seeing Through Others Eyes …

Macular Degeneration

In general, magnification and high levels of illumination will assist in reading and other near vision tasks.

Photos courtesy of National Eye Institute


Photos courtesy of National Eye Institute

Age related cataracts are often yellow or brown causing loss of sensitivity to blue.

diabetic retinopathy
Diabetic Retinopathy

Photos courtesy of National Eye Institute

This is the largest single cause of visual impairment among those of working age.

tunnel vision
Tunnel Vision

Photos courtesy of National Eye Institute

This impairment often makes it possible to read small print but not large print.

color and contrast
Color and Contrast
  • Use color to highlight focus, increase aesthetic appeal.
  • Ensure color alone is not required to ensure access for students who are color-blind, or in environment where color is comprised .

Bad: Information in red is required.

Push the green button to start.

Good: *Required information in red with asterisk.

use high contrast between text and background
Use high contrast between text and background

High Contrast

High Contrast


Very Low Contrast

avoid distracting backgrounds
Avoid distracting backgrounds

Read this text against a highly-colored psychedelic background

results of color testing using vischeck com
Results of Color Testing Using

Original Image

Blue/Yellow Color Blind

Red/Green Color Blind

results of color testing
Results of Color Testing
  • Red/green color blindness
  • Blue/yellow color blindness
animation flicker rate
Animation Flicker Rate
  • Flashing images annoying.
  • Can cause seizures for users with photosensitive epilepsy.
  • Seizures can occur if exposed to flashing images between 4 to 59 hertz (flashes per second).
on the blink test the animation flicker
On the Blink: Test the Animation/Flicker
  • If you do not have photosensitive epilepsy, example of flickering rate:
  • Illustration of flickering standards:
  • Use AIS Web Accessiblity Toolbar (under Images)
captioning audio and video content
Captioning Audio and Video Content
  • Types
    • Closed - Open - Real time
  • Benefits:
    • Students who are deaf or hard of hearing
    • English as second-language.
    • Different learning styles.
    • Quiet/noise-free, shared environments.
    • Searchable, printable, and markable reference.
captioning tools
Captioning Tools
  • Common, free software:
    • Windows Media On-Demand Producer (WMODP).
    • Media Access Generator (MAGpie)
  • File formats need certain software to play or edit:
    • MOV files (Quicktime)
    • RM files (Real Player)
    • ASF and WMV files (Windows Media Player)
    • MPG and AVI files playable by most
audio description ad
Audio Description (AD)
  • Verbal description of key visual elements in media inserted into natural pauses in audio of the media.
  • Used by individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
  • Types: Closed - Open - Real time
  • AKA “Descriptive video, video description”
barriers beyond the web
Barriers Beyond the Web …

Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF files

  • Avoid built-in “Save as Webpage” = JUNKY!
  • Multiple columns.
  • Lack of structure which AT relies upon.
  • Lack of textual equivalent for images, media.
  • Lack of software to view the document.

illinois accessible web publishing wizard for microsoft office
Illinois Accessible Web Publishing Wizard for Microsoft Office
  • Converts Word, PowerPoint and Excel files to accessible, valid webpages with style sheet.
  • Guided interface that automates most of the conversion.
  • Adds “Save As Accessible Web Page” option under File menu of all Office applications.

testing and evaluation
Testing and Evaluation
  • Print with images OFF and black/white to reveal issues like contrast, distractions, print settings.
  • Navigate without a mouse (keyboard only).
  • Check the load time.
  • Use screenreader or voice-enabled tool.
    • IBM Home Page Reader

  • User testing
barriers in webct1
Barriers in WebCT
  • Accessibility and WebCT by Joe Wheaton, Ph.D.

Associate Professor Rehabilitation Services, Ohio State University, Co-Director Web Accessibility Center and Certified WebCT Trainer.

assuring cms courses are accessible
Assuring CMS Courses are Accessible
  • Consider diversity of students and instructors for age, language, learning style, and abilities.
  • Check web pages are designed to be accessible.
  • Consider how teachers and students will interact.
  • Check accesssibility of video and audio content.
  • Make all content beyond webpages accessible.
tips to improve webct accessibility
Tips to Improve WebCT Accessibility
  • Provide instructions for users of AT.
  • Avoid using Chat and Whiteboard for giving vital course material.
  • Have all tools open in “Same Window” when given option.
  • Don’t use icons or paste the source in the title field.
  • Provide text alternative for all self-test and feedback.
tips to improve webct accessibility1
Tips to Improve WebCT Accessibility
  • Deliver all questions one at a time with ability to revist or make copy with alternate settings.
  • Use Discussion tools with as much division by topic.
  • Add Search, myGRADES, myProgress, and Glossary to Home page.
  • Be certain each link is Course Menu on left also available on home page or organizer.
tips to improve usability and accessibility
Tips to Improve Usability and Accessibility
  • Proper links, labelled individually.
  • Clear navigation mechanisms.
  • Logically structured page layouts.
  • Clear color contrast.
  • Reasonably-sized, adjustable text.
  • Straight-forward language.
  • Resources For More Info on CMS Access (Word)
challenge to you
Challenge To You …
  • Redefine true accessibility to be a state of …



?Questions and Comments!

Marsha Allen, Web Developer

[email protected]

Robert Todd , Project Director

[email protected]

Center for Assistive Technology & Environmental Access

Georgia Tech, College of Architecture

490 Tenth Street, Atlanta, Georgia 30318

404-894-4960 (v/tty) 404-894-9320(fax)

[email protected]