[Athen] MyMathLab

Ron Stewart ron at ahead.org
Sat Oct 23 06:44:46 PDT 2010

Morning Melanie,

Here is a pretty concise discussion on this very topic on the AHEAD list
just this last week.

Ron Stewart

Math ML is fine as long as a programmer knows what is he or she doing?

My school had web conference with Pearson team (programmers, legal team,
director, sales etc..)yesterday

Here is what they said :

Pearson is committed to accessibility.

Its Adobe Flash‘s Fault!..

Here is what We have found out talking to them.

- Their Development side has many faults using flash wrongly ,
programmers do not have any idea regarding the smart use of typesetting
language embedded to Math ML.

- They should avoid using excessive Flash and fixed font size etc..

- Programmers do not have a screen reader to test their product.!

- They do not have an reasonable answer on why would you create my
composition lab/myspanish lab with full of dynamic content Flash! In rich
view, Where this could be totally accessible.

- On citrix go to meeting their screen showed algebra mymathlab
/homework where it was created entirely with flash, where we created the
same content 100% accessible to demo to our faculty?

To my opinion/conclusion , most of their my lab series can be provided
accessible excluding some math! It’s matter of choise its not depending on
Adobe Flash or somebody else.

Another lame excuse came from their Legal department that Pearson talked to
you guys last week and talked with National federation of the blind that you
and the federation understands that its not Pearson Fault but rather the

Which is not true.

Conclusion: if a company like Pearson prepares an accessibility statement on
their web site and shows a video regarding the accessibility and if this
video doesn’t have CLOSE caption it does tell me how their committed to the

My school legal counselor and EEO have told our faculty that Pearson CanNOT
sell their products unless its Accessible to All.

Looking forward to talk more in Boulder if anyone has questions.


Selim Özi.

Good morning Ron and All,

I would like to share my two cents regarding Ron’s report on Pearson meeting
and its products accessibility.

At first, to eliminate confusion when I talk accessibility I mean keyboard
/screen reader accessibility with W3,WAI 2.0 recommendations.

At my school I typically provide 300/400 books per semester, in accessible
format in structured word , Daisy, OCR-tagged PDF’s, tagged HTML’s and in

As well as using scientific notebook, LATEX embedded structured accessible
books for MATH and Computer Science.

It seems like my school has an Enterprise Agreement with Pearson!, Currently
I am auditing my math lab, myeconlab, myspanishlab, mysciencelab etc..

I have audited them all using Jaws 11.0746, with firefox and I.E.

Here some of the findings on mymath lab.

mymathlab Audit

Overview: Upon entering the Course Compass using JAWS version 11, the site’s
home page is fairly accessible and uses helpful hotkeys, headings and “skip
navigation” links. The challenges arise after drilling down to the plug-in
that allows the student to complete homework assignments. The problem with
this module is that it is written entirely with Adobe Flash. One general
issue that has occurred, when accessing this site , is that JAWS will lose
focus with the flash player and simply state: “Open Parent Document Button.”
The only way to correct this problem is to navigate focus away from the
browser window. This usually solves the problem..

Some other functionality issues, as described in further detail below, have
to do with the way in which a screen reader user navigates each problem.
Typical form control elements such as: edit boxes, check boxes, and Radio
Buttons are not always recognized by the screen reader. Furthermore, the
state of these elements is not noted. For example, after checking a Radio
Button with the spacebar, JAWS is not always able to differentiate whether
the object is marked or unmarked.. Another recurring issue is that many of
the graphics used to represent buttons, are not always labeled. They are not
recognized as graphics, or any element. This issue was especially
problematic when trying to navigate a set of instructions, and JAWS would
say something to the effect of, “
and then press the ‘blank’ button.” Having
these graphics correctly labeled will be critical in understanding the
procedures that are being described. Listed below, is a detailed description
of the navigational and functional problems encountered when using a screen


Question 1

· Graphic of the Continue button is not recognized or labeled

· Graphical help button is not recognized or labeled

· Graphical Check Answer button is not recognized or labeled

· The edit box for typing the answer is not recognized or labeled

· The graphic of Animation button not recognized or labeled

· The graphic of the Help Me Solve This not recognized or labeled

Question 2

· Radio Buttons not recognized or tagged

· Icons of faces not labeled or tagged

· Save button does not trigger

· “Check Answer” pop-up windows are not accessible

Question 3

· Check boxes are not labeled as check boxes

· When check box is triggered, JAWS loses focus and speaks “Open
parent document button” (Firefox must leave focus and come back for JAWS to
work again)

· Any action on the page causes JAWS to lose the Flash application

· Save button does not trigger

Summary: Due to the fact that the issues are a recurring pattern, the
above-mentioned is simply a sampling of the challenges faced. The easiest
way to solve all of the above-mentioned issues can be alleviated by
eliminating the Flash module (except when it is absolutely necessary for
animation.) Most of the controls can be reproduced and easily be made
accessible to screen readers. When working with mathematical expressions,
style and accessibility can be accomplished by using the type-setting
language known as LaTex. This will allow the screen reader user to access
mathematical expressions in a linear way, while at the same time making the
expressions look visually appealing to the sighted.

I can easily say that by Auditing most of the my lab products that their
accessibility commitment is weak.!

I can understand that for Linear algebra or Calculus 3 lab work there are
challenges with current technology!

But building up a my spanish lab/literature/writing lab with entire flash
content, without tagged/labeled graphics is not acceptable.

To add an positive comment they have very dedicated accessibility team to
respond and they are willing to help ?

I would love to talk to you all in boulder in November and findout what
others doing in their school’s.

Selim Özi.

Good morning,

In my voluntary role as the Chair of AHEAD's IMAG effort I had the pleasure
of attending an internal Pearson conference on accessibility and innovation
a few weeks ago. I am going to share, with fairly broad strokes, some of
what was presented and discussed by the staff of Pearson as well as various
industry and accessibility experts at the event. As one of only a handful
of invited quests I want to express my thanks to Pearson for the opportunity
to get a much better understanding of the complexities of the accessibility
challenges that they face with their very widely adopted MyLab and related

As I understand it there are at least two different underlying systems for
the MyLab products, one for soft subjects (Literature, Writing...) and
another for hard subjects (Math, Econ, and Stats). At this point they have a
long way to go before I am willing to consider their products fully
accessible but clearly they have done a very good job of identifying where
the challenges are. They have also developed collaborative strategies for
tackling them. To give you some of an idea of what they are up against; my
understanding is that MyMathLab and its related products draw from a
learning object database of over 700,000+ items. Some are accessible, but
many are not. In dealing with these challenge some of the approaches they
are taking have promise but others will probably result in an accessible
solution but not an equivalent one for some users of assistive technology.
This is not a situation that is unique to Pearson. It is very common to
retrofit for accessibility based on adding complex and cumbersome steps to a
product interface for users of AT. The only way to truly insure both
accessibility and equivalent usability are to design them in from the
outset, and that is not an option with the current versions of these

MyStatsLab and related Pearson related MyLab products are all based on the
same underlying technologies so are going to present a variety of
accessibility challenges for users of assistive technology. As I understand
it there are three types of content that the user will have accessibility
issues within the MyLab environment:

-HTML which for the most part should be accessible according to Pearson
though I am not sure about the quality of the descriptive text that is
associated with the image and graphical content.

-Pearson's proprietary eText which as I understand is not currently

-FLASH where almost all of the accessibility is related to the way in which
the FLASH was constructed and is presented.

Further, Pearson has had a JAWS script for the use of that particular screen
reader with their MyLab products. The functional usability of that is not
something I can speak to because I don't do use JAWS in my evaluation work
for my clients. Unfortunately the link to that site appears to have been
taken down in the last few weeks. I would suggest contacting the support
group for the particular MyLab products you are using to get an update on
this. There have also been some resent changes made to the presentation
environment some of the MyLab products use that will increase the ease of
use as far as the learning interface goes.

I hope this provides some further insight into this very problematic

Ron Stewart

From: athen-bounces at athenpro.org [mailto:athen-bounces at athenpro.org] On
Behalf Of Melanie Thornton
Sent: Friday, October 22, 2010 4:47 PM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network
Subject: [Athen] MyMathLab

Happy Friday, everyone.

I recall seeing discussions a while back on MyMathLab and seem to recall it
not being accessible. One of our professors said that a rep visited them
and said the new version is accessible. Anyone have experience with this?




Melanie Thornton
Director, Project PACE
Associate Director, Disability Resource Center
University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Tel: 501.569.3217 | Fax: 501.569.8068

<http://ualr.edu/disability> ualr.edu/disability |
<http://ualr.edu/pace> ualr.edu/pace


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