[Athen] WebAssign info

Karen Sorensen karen.sorensen at pcc.edu
Mon Feb 9 22:58:03 PST 2015

Hi Wink,
We have done some testing of WebAssign.
All of the WebAssign equations are images with alt. text, which makes some
short-term sense since screen readers don't speak math well or consistently
these days, but as you guessed I'm sure, that also means the student can't
parse out the equation using a screen reader, which really makes studying
math difficult. WebAssign does do an awesome job describing graphs though.

But then they don't go all the way with the alt text.
There are still many real text math symbols used along with the images of
equations, so WebAssign has instructions on how to set your screen reader
up to read those symbols, but after many, many, many times trying, talking
and troubleshooting with WebAssign accessibility rep, we were never able to
successfully set JAWS 15 up to read the math in real text. JAWS
consistently read the exponents as whole numbers for example.( And then our
tester was annoyed that her settings were all messed up. So we didn't try
changing VoiceOver settings.)
So I don't know. Is it accessible? I wouldn't feel comfortable with a
distance student who used a screen reader taking a class that used it.
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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