[Athen] Respondus with a screen reader?

Russell Solowoniuk solowoniukr at macewan.ca
Fri Jun 5 08:27:40 PDT 2020

Hi Lucy,

Thanks for this feedback. What is your institution using in place of Respondus, if anything?



From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu> On Behalf Of Lucy GRECO
Sent: Thursday, June 4, 2020 6:27 PM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: [Athen] Respondus with a screen reader?

You were able to get a lot further than I was using the tool I didn't make it past the recording screen where it tested the microphone The problem was that it brought up a window security alertjust imagine the stress for a student with psychological disabilities this is not something we should be using on our campuses

I think though the final straw for our campus was we had handed out over 600 Chromebooks to students and we knew that there was already a thousand Chromebooks or more being used by students on campuses and the tool will not work on Chromebooks so not only is it blocking people with disabilities who need screen readers but it's also blocking people who don't have enough money to afford a Mac or a Windows computer and I could not at for the life of me allow it through the firewall frankly it was a terrible terrible tool and a bad idea our campus is banned use of it it's not good The other problem was is the lockdown functionality actually blocks other features then as you said the silencing it with control key if you try to do a screen find for example that is considered an illegal action and it will stop your exam and boot you out not a good tool

On Thu, Jun 4, 2020, 3:38 PM Russell Solowoniuk <solowoniukr at macewan.ca<mailto:solowoniukr at macewan.ca>> wrote:
Hi all,

Sorry for cross posting…

Has anyone had success using a screen reader with the Respondus LockDown Browser?

I've had a chance to test Respondus with Jaws 2020, the latest version of NVDA, and VoiceOver on Mac OS Catalina, and the results were terrible. Jaws and NVDA were not able to read any of the questions in a test exam at all. If I hadn't had my Braille display connected, I wouldn't have been able to complete the exam. I was able to read the questions with the Braille display, and, Jaws did read the multiple choice answers, except it repeated the answer that was highlighted 2 or 3 times as well as the answer just below the selected answer, so I had no way of knowing for sure that I was focused on the answer I wanted to choose. On some pages, Jaws would start reading the page, and I wasn't able to stop the reading. Pressing CTRL did nothing. The log in process was a nightmare as well. There were multiple screens, for example, a screen to take a picture of yourself, take a picture of your student ID card, pan around the room with your webcam, etc. One screen had "facial recognition", and you had to click on "start" and then "continue" when the facial recognition was done, but I was not able to get to the "continue" button with Jaws. Jaws would say "continue", but a sighted person told me the focus was not on the continue button. When I tried the test on my iMac, I didn't even get that far. A screen popped up asking if I wanted to allow Respondus to use my camera, but VO didn't read this prompt and I wasn't able to get to it in any of the usual ways, like pressing VO + F2 quickly to bring up a list of running windows.

Maybe the version of Respondus we are using is the issue. We are using Respondus LockDown Browser - Version Or maybe I am doing something wrong? Any ideas welcome!

If no one else has had any luck using Respondus with a screen reader, how can they get away with claiming it is accessible with a screen reader?

Thanks all,


Russell Solowoniuk
AT Educational Assistant, Services to Students with Disabilities
MacEwan University
7-198 D4, 10700-104 Ave.
Edmonton, AB T5J 4S2
E: solowoniukr at macewan.ca<mailto:solowoniukr at macewan.ca>
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