[Athen] Online Math Placement Test

Jeffrey Dell jeffreydell99 at gmail.com
Wed Mar 4 19:29:34 PST 2009

The University that I work at has just implemented a new online math
placement test. This will be available to all students to take at any
time day or night from home before they come to the university for
orientation and advising. As all other math placement tests that I
have seen this one is not accessible to screen readers and the content
is not adjustable to the users contrast settings because the equations
and numbers are in image files. the particular system is created by
In most cases where this happens (too frequently) we create an
alternative version and make it available in the Disability Services
office. But that would not offer equality of availability to the test
that the disabled students peers recieve. I don't like people saying
to me have someone read the test to them. That is not a solution in
my book. I want our students to be able to complete work on their
own. I particularly want students to develop the confidence that
comes from completing work independently.
What really gets me is that all the images need is an alt tag with the
LaTex version of the equations or a MathML substitute for students
with disabilities. It could be so easily made accessible. The
amusing thing is that the graphics are created from MathML stored in a
database then the graphics are displayed for the students. I was told
that today by a tech rep from the company.
There are two short term solutions. Create an equivalent version from
scratch. this would include instant feedback of results and round the
clock availability without an accomodation request. the second is
finding an online testing solution that will allow us to create our
own accessible tests.
I'm tired of constantly seeing this happen over an over. I am working
on getting the university to accept and implement a 508 plan and
standards. This will take a very long time to do and does not solve
my current dilemma.
I'm posting this because I'm looking for ideas. Has the institution
that any of you work for switched to something like this? How have
you handled it? Does anyone have ideas? Does anyone know of any
accessible online math tests?
Since I have taken over the Assistive Technology Specialist position
at CSU (Ohio) I have been using MathML for math tests and MathType
with Duxbury and a variety of solutions for graphics. We have gone
from reading the tests to students to allowing them to work
independently. Our students are happy with that because there is
nothing more boring than having a test read to you. If you have not
experienced that try an RFB&D math book sometime.
Jeffrey Dell
Assistive Technology Specialist
Office of disability Services
Cleveland State University

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