[Athen] [ATHEN] Accessibility for Online Course Student Using JAWS

Ron Stewart ron.stewart at dolphinusa.com
Tue Feb 26 07:24:06 PST 2008

Half of the Universities, Norm you are too kind.


-----Original Message-----
From: athen-bounces at athenpro.org [mailto:athen-bounces at athenpro.org] On
Behalf Of Prof Norm Coombs
Sent: Tuesday, February 26, 2008 10:06 AM
To: Access Technologists in Higher Education Network
Subject: Re: [Athen] Accessibility for Online Course Student Using JAWS

I agree exactly with Ron's comments. With the exception of chat WebCT is
usually accessible. big lots beef and cranbery stick
will be something totally different!!!
WebCT is essentially a shell and accessibility also depends on how the
teacher uses it.

The university is required to provide an education to a student with a
disability as it provides to others. I take this to mean either they
refuse to use a product that is inaccessible or provide something the court
might accept as an equal experience.

The truth is that probably more than half the universities in the country
fall short of this standard and usually no one complains and when they
complain and nothing happens in time the complainer goes away and the
complaint seldom goes to any higher power.

I don't know whether it would be required or not, but someone should be
available somewhere to help a student develop advanced proficiency on the
screen reader. No one really addresses who is responsible. Probably the
assumption that the student should have this skill. For students without
disabilities who have trouble using their software in a course, we seem to
make them responsible but yet usually a help desk would know enough to help
them but typically not know enough to provide help on specialized adaptive

At 06:42 AM 2/26/2008, you wrote:

>Content-Type: multipart/alternative;

> boundary="----=_NextPart_000_0092_01C8785B.E9ED76F0"

>Content-Language: en-us


>I'll bite on this one. It makes on difference if the student is degree

>seeking or not they are still a student.


>YES there are major issues with working with Visual Studio and Visual C++

>with any screen reader. From my last look there were typically work

>arounds for the basics but the user needed to be a very competent screen

>reader user. There are also a lot of issues with the drag and drop

>development controls which I believe there are no work arounds for.


>It sounds like it may be necessary to separate the lack of technical

>proficiency issues from the accessibility issues. Being unable to install

>a program does not sound like a access issue. Is the Textbook CD and

>accessible piece of content? If not then that is also an issue but not

>one I would have agreed to provide a tutor for.


>The fast majority of students I have worked with are not, regardless of

>the flavor of screen reader used, able to be fully proficient with many of

>these products, especially when they are being exposed to is as

>student. As you may have found out VPAT's are pretty much worthless for

>actually determining usability.


>As far as the WebCT interface it has pretty much the same issues as any

>other CMS but for the most part the portal is fine with the exception of

>the Chat and the other interactive tools. I have recommended that a

>student be allowed to work outside of the WebCT portal since that is just

>a delivery system not an actual part of the course content.


>Sounds like a lot of specificity on the part of the student is missing,

>and from this it is hard to determine what are issues of access and which

>are issues of ignorance.


>Ron Stewart


>From: athen-bounces at athenpro.org [mailto:athen-bounces at athenpro.org] On

>Behalf Of Larry Kiser

>Sent: Tuesday, February 26, 2008 9:00 AM

>To: Access Technologists in Higher Education Network

>Subject: [Athen] Accessibility for Online Course Student Using JAWS


>Dear Colleagues:


>A non-degree seeking student who is blind and uses JAWS at home elected to

>register for an online C++ course. As the term began the student waited

>for the instructor to send a personal email rather than entering the WebCT

>course site. After I explained to the student the necessity of doing so I

>spent considerable time writing up command protocols for the student so

>the student could navigate the site. I was surprised that the student was

>unaware of many available JAWS commands but the student appeared to be

>able to access the course material with the protocols. The student then

>encountered problems downloading and installing Visual Studio and using

>the CD that came with the textbook. At the student's insistence the

>instructor located a tutor, who is paid by the Division of Blind Services

>to go to the student's home for tutoring sessions. Last week I got a call

>from the student who reported that he was unable to access certain windows

>in Visual Studio with JAWS. The tutor was supposed to meet with me in

>order that we could open the applications with JAWS and determine if there

>was a work around. That has not yet occurred. The student also claims

>some of the course elements in WebCT are graphics and inaccessible.


>I am clear that if inaccessible graphics have been incorporated into the

>course material I need to collaborate with the instructor to make an

>accessible alternative. However, I am not clear what the college's

>responsibility is regarding problems with JAWS interacting with

>Microsoft's Visual Studio. Have any of you encountered similar situations

>and how did you resolve it? I did download the VAT for that application

>from Microsoft and noted that Microsoft claims it is 508 compliant with

>some exceptions. At this point I do not know if the exceptions are the

>problem the student is encountering. The student has expressed the

>feeling in an email that an alternative course format should be made

>available in lieu of WebCT. Would that be considered a fundamental

>alteration of the course?


>Larry Kiser, Counselor

>Disabilities Resource Center

>Santa Fe Community College

>Gainesville, FL




>Athen mailing list

>Athen at athenpro.org


Norman Coombs, Ph.D.
Laguna Hills CA (949) 855-4852

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