[Athen] ALEKS testing with screen reader user

Karen Sorensen karen.sorensen at pcc.edu
Mon Jan 13 12:20:27 PST 2014

Hi Everyone,
As promised, I am following up after our initial testing of ALEKS.
We (Phyllis Petteys, Angel Chisemet and I ) did a screen reader user test
on ALEKs last friday and it was very promising! There is still an issue
with graphical problems, which currently are labeled by "Requires human
guide" so the student will know it isn't accessible (We thought that
sounded like an odd label, and suggested, "Requires assistance"). We know
leaving graphical problems out isn't acceptable especially in online
courses, so we suggested that McGraw Hill (who now owns ALEKs) consider
making the graphical images available to download so we can print them on a
tactile printer. They seemed open to this idea, but we were talking with a
regional manager and a sales rep. so we will have to wait and see if the
company is open to the idea.
But the fact that the screen reader could read the mathematical problems
without any special plug-ins was fantastic and a huge step forward! I think
all of the problems had alternative text instead of depending on MathML.
(We just tested on IE 10 and Firefox with JAWS 13. We plan to still test on
Safari. )
In addition to the graphical problem issue, there are some other issues to
be worked out - one in particular that doesn't allow a blind student to get
past the assessment step without sighted assistance.
I'll keep you informed as we do more testing. We only tested the student
side. We haven't tested the instructor side. Here are our findings so far:
Usability issues:

o I don’t know button didn’t show in a link list; Next button didn’t
show in link list; Explain link not showing in link list

o Why are numbers and equations links?

- Accessibility issues:

o Pie (navigation after assessment) isn’t keyboard accessible and Pie
links not reading with screen reader.

o Image/graphical problems not accessible. –Suggest providing images so
we could print them out as a tactile graphic.

o Continue button after assessment is not labeled.

Hope this helps others who are looking into the issue.

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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