[Athen] ALEKS and Accessibility

Ron Stewart ron at ahead.org
Wed Jan 8 15:49:18 PST 2014


The problem is that WCAG 2.0 at the AA level does not adequately address the
access needs for complex, graphically rich and highly structured curricular
content. Nor do they address anything outside of a web based presentation,
which many of the academic applications do. Also it is not a standard, it is
a set of guidelines that are being perceived as being standards. It is a
good target to shoot for, but there is a lot of curricular content that
falls through the gaps in these recommendations. If we actually see the
revisions to Section 508 adopt this in their final codification that may
change but I am not holding my breath in that happening any time soon.

Additionally, it has never been its purpose. Yet is being looked at as the
defacto standard. DS offices are required to adhere to the specifications
of Section 504 of the Rehab Act and the illusion that if they meet this
requirement we are okay is naive. Having done almost two decades of research
in this area I have found again and again that supposedly conformant content
is not functionally usable with commonly available assistive technologies.
In the last series of studies prior to my leaving Oregon State Uni we found
that ~85% of the sites reviewed were compliant with the 508 specifications
but were at ~83% unusable with AT based interactions. It is a good starting
place but does not hit the goal!

Does this help? This is a battle that I fight again and again in my work
with the educational community so am very happy to continue any dialog on
this topic. As a real life example my group just completed a DE course
review for a major university and based on initial evaluation their content
was satisfactory based on the WCAG, but there courses we functionally
unusable when we looked at the actual usage of the courses with keyboard
only navigation and got even worse with voice recognition interaction.

Ron Stewart

From: athen-list-bounces at mailman2.u.washington.edu
[mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman2.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Karen
Sent: Wednesday, January 08, 2014 3:15 PM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network
Subject: [Athen] ALEKS and Accessibility

Hi Ron,

You say, "Without a suitable set of standards/guidelines this is very
difficult to do and it is very hard for a commercial provider to shoot for a
moving target."

What do you mean? Why isn't WCAG 2.0 a suitable set of standards? Will the
ADA changes address publisher content?


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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