[Athen] inaccessible online coursework McGrawHill Connect

Joseph Sherman Joseph.Sherman at cuny.edu
Tue May 17 06:42:40 PDT 2016

Given the current inaccessibility of the McGraw Hill building block for blackboard, have you been able to prevent your school from implementing it? If not, what do you have in place to ensure equivalent access? If I recommend against implementing McGraw-Hill Connect, I would like to be able to suggest an alternative- but are any of the publishers building blocks for blackboard accessible?

For what it’s worth, below is some information regarding accessibility from their accessibility manager:

A third party audit of Connect has been completed and results are being categorized and prioritized for our roadmap addressing future implementation. At this time, we know that a screen reader does not optimally utilize and interact with all areas of Connect. We have planned for improvements this summer. The majority of development and enhancements that will improve display and screen reader capabilities is slated for later this year and summer 2017. Further, we would welcome the chance to speak further regarding specific points about the display appearance and provide a demonstration of the most up-to-date version of Connect, which went live to students this spring.

Concerning LearnSmart and Smartbook; work is underway. We are in the process of converting our LearnSmart and SmartBook products to HTML and working on the implementation of keyboard navigation. A 3rd party audit of these products has been completed and is with a team to review for prioritization of our development plan and roadmap. Keyboard navigation is a priority for back to school, fall 2016.

The product and platform teams are working on enhancing digital assets and our platform to increase their level of accessibility and align more closely to WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines. The majority of our videos include closed captioning and/or transcripts. New videos will be developed with WCAG 2.0 guidelines as the standard. In 2016, any new PowerPoints created will also be created following WCAG 2.0 Level AA. The majority of our illustrations and photos have “alt tags” available.

Alternate text files can be made available to persons with disabilities upon request. Files are available for most titles published after 1998. In order to send a file, we require a written request from the disability services center of your school. The request should state that there is a student with a certified disability who is registered for a course in which he/she is required to use and has purchased the book. Most files are available in both Microsoft Word and PDF. Many 2015 © and beyond are also available in EPUB 3 format.

Alternative Content- We are committed to working with all of our education partners as we progress with our accessibility efforts. In the event that alternative content formats are required, we will evaluate the options and where possible, provide materials as needed.


From: athen-list [mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Matt McCubbin
Sent: Thursday, February 11, 2016 3:04 PM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network
Subject: Re: [Athen] JAWS inaccessible online coursework McGrawHill Connect

We came to the same conclusions, and McGraw Hill did not have a timeline as to when accessibility would be incorporated in to the flash-based Connect.

Matt McCubbin
Adaptive Technology Specialist
University of Massachusetts Boston
(617) 287-5243

From: athen-list [mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Nast, Joseph M
Sent: Wednesday, February 03, 2016 6:35 PM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu<mailto:athen-list at u.washington.edu>>
Subject: Re: [Athen] JAWS inaccessible online coursework McGrawHill Connect

Thanks Joseph, Ron, Karen, Chris, Jiatyan, Norma Jean, and everyone else for your input and suggestions! I’ll reach out to McGraw-Hill to see if they have any solutions.

Unfortunately, I think everyone agrees on a point both Joseph and Karen brought up: an equitable alt format (e.g. EPUB3, Daisy, etc.) to interactive online content isn’t really possible. Which means we’re only left with reader\scribe\personal assistance. Using Zoom is a genius solution though, thanks Karen!

If I receive any new information from McGraw-Hill, I’ll be sure to update the listserv.

Appreciate you all!


From: athen-list [mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Karen Sorensen
Sent: Wednesday, February 03, 2016 2:22 PM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network
Subject: Re: [Athen] JAWS inaccessible online coursework McGrawHill Connect

Hi Joseph,
Yes, our assessment of Connect is the same as yours. We found too many barriers to develop equally effective content. The accessibility manager for McGraw Hill is very knowledgeable. Her name is Lisa Nicks. Email: lisa.nicks at mheducation.com<mailto:lisa.nicks at mheducation.com>
I suggest you ask her and your McGraw Hill reps to help with alternative content, since it's their product that caused the problem. However, if you are experiencing the problem now, you may need the instructor to work with the student independently or have someone remotely control the student's computer. I just used the free version of Zoom conferencing tool with a screen-reader user, and it allowed me to remotely control the student's computer and hear both the student and JAWS. Both of us thought Zoom was awesome!
Hope that helps.
Karen M. Sorensen
Accessibility Advocate for Online Courses
Portland Community College

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