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). > > > VICUG-L is the Visually Impaired Computer User Group List. > Archived on the World Wide Web at > http://listserv.icors.org/archives/vicug-l.html > Signoff: vicug-l-unsubscribe-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx > Subscribe: vicug-l-subscribe-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Check out the TABI resource web page at http://acorange.home.comcast.net/TABI and please make suggestions for new material. if you'd like to unsubscribe you can do so through the freelists.org web interface, or by sending an email to the address tabi-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject. Check out the TABI resource web page at http://acorange.home.comcast.net/TABI and please make suggestions for new material. if you'd like to unsubscribe you can do so through the freelists.org web interface, or by sending an email to the address tabi-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject. Check out the TABI resource web page at http://acorange.home.comcast.net/TABI and please make suggestions for new material. if you'd like to unsubscribe you can do so through the freelists.org web interface, or by sending an email to the address tabi-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject.