[Athen] ALEKS and Accessibility

Wink Harner foreigntype at gmail.com
Tue Jan 7 13:38:45 PST 2014

Hi all,

Am throwing in my 2.5 cents on this. As students with alt-text
accommodations are not required to pay twice for their "accessible" format
book, neither should we, as providers, purchase a product and then purchase
or be required to produce the accessible materials on top. But my 2.5 cents
is not about the cost. It's more about the integrity of the exam and the

For those of you who are old enough to remember, when COMPASS produced their
computerized math test, they also made a Brailled/tactile version available.
ALEKS is a standardized, national standards math placement test. Wouldn't
they (McGraw Hill) be interested in maintaining the security & integrity of
their national tests by producing the accessible version(s) themselves or by
an outside (professional) vendor to maintain the consistency & evaluation
standards the same? Eliminating all the graphing questions for the Blind is
discriminatory in the extreme. Insults to the Blind & Sight Impaired
notwithstanding, doing this would certainly invalidate the national scoring
standards. In the interest of good will and good customer service, my wish
would be that MH would either produce the math placement test in Math ML or
have a "check this box for alterative format" result in our being able to
request FREE tactile graphs, Nemeth Braille, or audio versions among others
from the publisher for our colleges' testing centers.

My thoughts on a Tuesday, not as cold here as in other places.


foreigntype at gmail.com

Wink Harner

Assistive Technology Specialist

Southern Oregon University


<mailto:harnerw at sou.edu> harnerw at sou.edu

From: athen-list-bounces at mailman2.u.washington.edu
[mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman2.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Karen
Sent: Tuesday, January 07, 2014 1:04 PM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network
Subject: [Athen] ALEKS and Accessibility

Hi All ,

ALEX has a October 1, 2013 VPAT that is supposed to cover all of their
changes. Lisa Nicks is the accessibility specialist at McGraw Hill who I got
the VPAT from. lisa.nicks at mheducation.com

We have also been in communication with folks from McGraw Hill (who now have
purchased ALEX in the last year as I understand it. ) They have moved all of
their equations to Javascript rather than JAVA, and they say that 72% of
their equations are now accessible, even though the folks we talked with
weren't sure the equations were in mathML (Lisa Nicks wasn't on the call).

We are going to be doing some testing of ALEX this Friday. I'll post back to
the listserv next week on what we find.

One of their accessibility "improvements" they showed us, was a way for an
instructor to indicate that a blind student was using ALEX. When the
instructor clicked that button, all graphical questions were eliminated. How
do folks feel about that? Our math instructors didn't like that at all. We
asked the McGraw Hill folks if they would provide tactile alt. formats for
those graphical questions. They seemed to think that was our responsibility.
My feeling is that we shouldn't have to pay for materials that we then have
to accommodate. How do others feel about this?

Thanks. Hope that helps.



Karen M. Sorensen
Accessibility Advocate for Online Courses
Portland Community College
"The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless
of disability is an essential aspect." Tim Berners-Lee

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