[tabi] Re: Few: [VICUG-L] Let's Give the Blind Better Access to On-Line Learning

  • From: "Charles Atkins" <catkins@xxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 17 May 2011 20:55:45 -0400

Sounds reasonable to me!


----- Original Message ----- From: "Bubba" <bubbathegeek@xxxxxxxxx>
To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 2:06 PM
Subject: [tabi] Re: Few: [VICUG-L] Let's Give the Blind Better Access to On-Line Learning


That was not what I meant by public dollor or tax payer dollars. For
example: A Public school is funded by tax payers dollars so there sites
should be accessible Just because of the fact that tax payer dollars is
funding it where as Sears site is not funded by tax payer dollars. Now to
make it accessible the loop hole that they get around like say sears and
schools site and such is the word reasonable in the ADA law. It says in it
at reasonable cost. Also accessible is not really defined good. No
guidelines or standard. What might be accessible to you I might not call it accessible and vice versa. So here is another loop hole. I know this because
I help do some 5o8 testing. For the state legislature for some of their
software. They are willing to go to a point to make it accessible but after that point they stop and say it is not reasonable and cost effected and that is exactly what the ADA has in it that at reasonable cost and not with a bad
Burdon so to speak. Also no guide lines is given to the word accessible .
For example if you have to use your JFW curser or scripts and such to make
it accessible is this accessible some would say yes and others would say no
it is inaccessible and others would lie in the middle saying well it is
accessible because you can write scripts and use the JFW curser to use it
but it could be better or more user friendly. So this is what I am saying
here is the word accessible needs to have some very good written out plain
English of what is the guide lines of accessible  is. JMT!


Sign,
Bubba


-----Original Message-----
From: tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf
Of Allison and Chip Orange
Sent: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 12:21 PM
To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [tabi] Re: Fw: [VICUG-L] Let's Give the Blind Better Access to
On-Line Learning

Bubba,

actually, this isn't an issue of public dollars, all web sites meant for the
public have to be accessible under the ADA because the courts have ruled
that these are "public spaces" just as a mall is a "public space" which has
to be accessible.  Unfortunately, it takes a lawsuit (or sometimes a
complaint to DOJ) to get the authors of inaccessible web sites to change
things.

Chip


-----Original Message-----
From: tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf
Of Bubba
Sent: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 12:37 AM
To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [tabi] Re: Fw: [VICUG-L] Let's Give the Blind Better Access to
On-Line Learning

Yes, totally agree. This would be big plus for us. But in order for this to happen the ADA needs to lobby for things that will make these people comply with accessibility by making the fines bigger and the slap much harder. They also need to take that word reasonable out of the ADA and make it say it has
to meet accessibility and define some rules for accessibility. Till this
happens this is going to keep going on. When it comes to public education
that is funded by tax dollars this should be something they must do and it
be done correctly. We too are tax payers and there forth in this matter
should have the same right as our visual counter parts does. JMT !



Sign,
Bubba

-----Original Message-----
From: tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf
Of Lynn Evans
Sent: Monday, May 16, 2011 10:36 PM
To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [tabi] Fw: [VICUG-L] Let's Give the Blind Better Access to On-Line
Learning

FYI
----- Original Message -----
From: "peter altschul" <paltschul@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <VICUG-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Monday, May 16, 2011 9:33 AM
Subject: [VICUG-L] Let's Give the Blind Better Access to On-Line Learning


Let's Give the Blind Better Access to Online Learning  James Yang for
The Chronicle  By Virginia A.  Jacko  It is ironic that in an age when
technology could erase so many barriers for blind students, colleges
and universities are not paying enough attention to accessibility in
their online services.  Online learning should be a significant
advantage for blind and visually impaired students because of the
absence of physical barriers--there is no struggle to locate
classrooms, deal with elevators, or walk between buildings on a large
campus.
While most colleges attempt to comply reasonably with the Americans
With Disabilities Act, all too often the developers and publishers of
software and online course-management systems, digital textbooks, and
other course materials--as well as the colleges that buy their
products--ignore the needs of blind and visually impaired students.
 I first expressed concern about digital accessibility more than 10
years ago, when I was a financial executive at Purdue University.
When Purdue launched its distance-learning initiative, like many
universities it did not see accessibility as a priority.  I was then
losing my eyesight to retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary eye disease
that causes gradual vision loss leading to total blindness, and I was
becoming aware of how technology can both help and hinder the
disabled.  Purdue adopted an online-purchasing system that shut out
the visually impaired.
When I alerted the software designers and the company's president,
they were unaware of the problem.  At the time, we had several older
employees, and this oversight caused some people to leave their
positions prematurely, a blow to the university's human-resources
pool.  People often assume that virtual technology, that
world-at-your-fingertips magic that has been so entrancing and useful
to almost everyone in the developed world for the past 15 years,
erases barriers for the blind.  After all, we hear all the time about
how anyone with Internet access can find out practically anything.
But it just isn't true: I have been totally blind for almost 10 years,
and without my screen-reading software the world my computer offers is
nothing but a smooth pane of glass.  The intricacies of digital forms
and Web-page interfaces may not seem formidable at first glance
(although heaven knows enough of my sighted friends complain about Web
sites).  But as The Chronicle has reported ("Colleges Lock Out Blind
Students Online," December 12, 2010), these barriers are just as real
as any physical barrier.  My guide dog, Kieran, helps me negotiate
physical barriers, but he certainly can't do anything for me online!
Colleges must press software designers to make their online
applications accessible.
Screen-reading software, which responds to computer keystrokes by
reading out loud the text displayed on the monitor, is one solution.
If every component of a Web site has a text element, the
screen-reading software should work.  I use JAWS (Job Access With
Speech) software, which works extremely well with Microsoft software.
I am able to use Outlook, Word, and Excel by running JAWS
simultaneously.  Federal standards on access to electronic and
information technology (referred to as Section 508) require
keyboard-enabled interfaces.  The technical standards for software are
clear: "When software is designed to run on a system that has a
keyboard, product functions shall be executable from a keyboard where
the function itself or the result of performing a function can be
discerned textually?--in other words, it should be readable by
screen-reading software like JAWS.  In addition, all graphic elements
on Web pages must have a textual description.  The federal regulations
also are clear about accessibility of online forms.  You would think
this one would be a no-brainer, but look at all the trouble caused by
online-course software that would not allow students using assistive
technology to submit their assignments online the way other students
could, as described in the December article in The Chronicle.  Our
computer instructors at Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually
Impaired Inc., of which I am president, have heard complaints about
online accessibility from blind and visually impaired students
attending colleges in Florida, but such complaints are not unique to
our state.  I have also heard success stories, especially in cases
where students used distance-learning course software developed by
Angel Learning Inc.  With the acquisition of the company by Blackboard
Inc., a more flexible environment for teaching and learning should
develop, which may begin to resolve accessibility problems with
screen-reading software.  The most frequent issue involves Web sites
that are not accessible or are very difficult to use.  The
screen-reading software is unable to read graphics that do not include
a text component.  Other complaints we hear involve professors who
send e-mails with attachments that are scanned documents, rather than
text that can be rendered by screen-reading software.  A scanned
document is just like a picture as far as screen-reading software is
concerned, and therefore reads as "blank." Another issue is that some
Web sites have automatic, continuous instant-messaging updates or
continuous chats, which need to have a link to disable them, because
JAWS frequently garbles the constantly changing text.
Miami Lighthouse has formed partnerships with software companies as a
test site for other kinds of accessible technology, and we would
welcome the opportunity to work with developers on accessible
courseware and other learning technology--but no one has asked! It
isn't enough anymore for a university to have an office of disability
services that provides course assistants and a place for students to
complain.  We are living in a world that has fully embraced digital
technology and media, and the blind and other disabled people have the
right to participate in it fully.  It is not an impossible or even a
difficult task to make sure all graphic elements are keyboard-enabled.
Software designers for colleges and other institutions will make
accessibility automatic when they realize their market demands it.  It
would also help for faculty members to keep accessibility in mind and
think twice before, say, attaching scanned course material to an
e-mail or requiring participation in a live chat, which is a big
challenge for JAWS software.  Many universities are expanding their
distance-learning curricula, which can be very lucrative.  But if that
expansion includes the large-scale use of Web-based materials that
shut out blind students, universities will eventually have to account
for that failure.
Accessibility affects everyone in the long run.  It is perplexing that
colleges and universities spend significant amounts of money on
diversity initiatives aimed at promoting ethnic and socioeconomic
diversity but fail to consider curriculum access for the visually
impaired.  It is especially perplexing when you consider that the
software to solve accessibility problems already exists, and federal
regulations are in place that require access to online information.
We know that better online access for the blind is possible because we
have seen it happening at Miami Lighthouse.  Our vision-rehabilitation
program has an extensive assistive-technology component.  It is vital
for our clients to know they can regain the ability to use computers,
phones, and other electronic devices for work, education,
socializing--everything the sighted world uses technology for.
Our vocational-rehabilitation clients make extensive use of
accessibility software for business and music applications, which has
helped many of them find or keep rewarding, mainstream employment.
Colleges must provide better accessibility for the blind and visually
impaired, especially as the colleges vigorously embrace diversity.
 Virginia A.  Jacko is president and chief executive of Miami
Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired Inc.  She is co-author
of The Blind Visionary (Governance Edge Press, 2010).


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and please make suggestions for new material.



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and please make suggestions for new material.



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