[Athen] Update on MySpanishLab

Deborah Armstrong armstrongdeborah at fhda.edu
Fri Oct 18 14:20:43 PDT 2019

I'm finishing up my fourth week with MySpanishLab using screen readers to access the materials.

I reported on the challenges and successes in previous posts so this is a shorter update.

I am still unable to do the drag and drop exercises in the actual lab assignments. Pearson support and our local rep claim the tester did not have any difficulties: simply press tab to navigate to an object and control to drag it.

I don't know how their quality assurance folk were doing the dragging with the control key. I pointed out that control tab goes to a different browser window and was told that I should not press control and tab together.

Okay, but if I am holding control to drag how do I navigate to where I want to dump the dragged object?

This hasn't been clarified, and I suspect the tester is holding control while moving the mouse. It's very frustrating sending emails back and forth and not getting a rational answer out of them, except that it works and I must be doing something wrong.

As for the textbook, it continues to be richly accessible. It is very visually oriented but all diagrams and photos I've encountered so far are clearly described so that exercises dependent on the photos and diagrams are easy to complete.

The tutorials too are very accessible, including the drag and drop portions. Here you find the object you wish to drag something to, press alt-5, and you are now focused on the objects to drag. You tab to the one you want and press Alt-Enter. The instructions made this sound way more complicated than it actually was, once I figured it out.

I am not convinced that this is the easiest way for a screen reader user to learn however. If you listen to a description of an image such as "A photo shows a man smiling" which symbolizes the word "nice" which in Spanish is "simpatico", you have the cognitive overload of the image description, the Spanish word and the English translation. I found studying a vocabulary list to be far more straightforward than working through these admittedly very accessible tutorials. I know studying languages this way is deprecated; looking at pictures keeps us from translating but if the pictures themselves need translating it kind of defeats the purpose!
Besides the lab assignments and tutorials the other review activities include videos which are harde to follow; their Spanish is way too fast and I miss the visual cues that help. There are also very accessible flash cards which can be downloaded or printed or studied online. No issues there. And there's also downloadable practice audio which you can save on your local computer or phone.

There are also pre-tests and post-tests you can take which so far have been completely accessible. The matching exercises use standard combo boxes and are not a problem to navigate or fix wrong answers before submitting.

When working with a lab or practice test, your incorrect answers are shown and you can repeat the assignment as many times as you need to get all answers correct. This process is fully accessible and its layout is consistent so a user of speech, Braille or magnification can quickly locate any incorrect answers on a crowded page.

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