[Athen] Possible changes in student email clients

John Foliot jfoliot at stanford.edu
Tue Apr 28 16:34:52 PDT 2009

Heidi Scher wrote:


> Our IT department is currently looking at the email

> client we are using as well as reviewing Microsoft’s

> Live at edu and Google Apps to see which would better serve

> our student body email needs.  Thought I'd ask the experts

> if you have any tips/hints regarding accessibility issues

> with either of the last two apps.


We went through this process a while back and are actually in the midst of
the migration process. At the time, the evaluation process had ultimately
focused on 3 possible solutions, including both MS's and Google's, as well
as Zimbra. The goal was an integrated email and calendaring solution.

Ultimately our university chose Zimbra, based upon a number of factors,
but from the accessibility angle I was lobbying for Zimbra anyway. While
Zimbra 'shines' as a Web 2.0, browser based solution (shine of course
being relative), all of the functionality can also be ported to other,
more native apps such as Outlook, Thunderbird or OS X Mail (for example),
and the 'basic' web-based interface is workable although hardly slick with
AT (and screen readers in particular). Like many of these apps, there is a
whole whack of Web 2.0, Ajax-y whizz-bang eye candy.

The Microsoft web-based solution (and again this was almost 2 years ago)
relied on using Internet Explorer for the "full" experience/functionality,
a serious issue on a campus that is likely close to 75% Mac-centric. By my
recollection, it met minimal Section 508 requirements, but hardly excelled
as a model of web accessibility. The Google solution of the time was an
absolute failure - to the point that when I enquired about Section 508
conformance the sales rep looked at me and said "...we have problems..."
(kinda slammed the door there I'd say).

The migration to Zimbra has been a scaled initiative with all students
having access to the web-based client for a couple of months now. I know
that there have been a few issues with the calendaring piece, but the
Zimbra team has been working with our IT services to iron out the bugs -
and while not yet there it appears that progress is being made.

Hopefully this info is of some use.



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