Blackboard Accessibility Interest Group

Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services (CITES) and Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES)

University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign

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Teleconference Details

Date: 2008-06-24

Time: 3:00 pm EDT, 2:00 pm CDT, 1:00 pm MDT, 12:00 pm PDT


  1. Discuss status of Bb accessibility course, including user cases
  2. Review idea of creating a Blackboard Assistive Technology Tutorial and creating instruction and tutorials for assistive technology users on how to utilize the BB environment using their AT hardware/software
  3. Discuss expanding the BB-DOC project to come up with instructions and tutorials for content creators how to create more accessible content in the Bb environment
  4. Discuss developing documentation arising from discussions of other Subgroups


Blackboard BB-Doc Sub Group Teleconference minutes, June 24th, 2008
Scribe: Kevin Price

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Action items


Accessibility Course

  • username: bbdoc
  • password: bbdoc


    Discuss status of Bb accessibility course, including user cases

    Beth updated the committee on the accessibility course. No user cases were submitted. Beth received permissions from Silkroad to use materials in the portfolio assignment. This will allow the course to stay as it is. The course content is now in Vista WebCT also with both formats release behind the blackboard. A public announcement before and during BB World will be made about the course and there is assurance that the product will be marketed by BB product development. It will be presented when announced as a deliverable by the BB Documentation Subgroup. Organizations will be able to download the materials and customize the content to the way they want to use the materials. There was agreement that it was great to have a deliverable by our committee. The Vista part is a learning course where institutions can pull out parts and use them as they see fit. Beth tried to code very plainly with the course and Hadi agreed that it appeared accessible.

    Review idea of creating a Blackboard Assistive Technology Tutorial and creating instruction and tutorials for assistive technology users

    The committee discussed Ed Garay's note concerning creating accessibility tutorials for previous versions of Blackboard. There was agreement that it is a good idea but this should be something that Blackboard initiates and leads on with the committee as a resource for this effort. Beth indicated that Blackboard did not have people with the experience in AT to lead the effort. Hadi expressed concern that Blackboard could hire a consultant to help with the process of improving Blackboard accessibility instead of relying on the labor of the UIUC Blackboard projects. Lisa was also concerned with practicality of creating a document with so many different assistive technologies to access Blackboard. Hadi had mentioned that any efforts toward improving accessibility should be focused on the current and developing products and not focused on the past products. The discussion for the discussion turned to providing other documentation help with the current and developing products. The idea was to fill in the gap with necessary documentation where the current and developing program lacked accessibility documentation. There was a discussion on who the instructional materials should be for, Hadi believed it could be for instructors, instructional designers and students. There was some concern that providing help for all the different audiences would not be possible with the different needs between students and instructors. Hadi indicated that everyone (instructors, designers and students) would need to know about accessibility issues using the same system. The information could be developed in different sections to meet the needs of the audience (students, instructors, instructional designers). Beth indicated that accessibility documentation currently created included some simple context sensitive help files, some quick start guides, and an old screen reader tutorial for Blackboard. These are all available "Behind the Blackboard". Beth said that they are developing fast/just in time cookbooks to help people in create documents (step by step) in 15 minutes. She indicated there was no way to incorporate a more complex accessibility manual/help file into the Blackboard product or create external links to help files in the product. External links are outside of the developed versions scope because the versions are based on basic scaffolding. Other documentation quick start guides could be created for such things as screen reader access to Blackboard. Beth would need to know from the committee what specific content needs to be added to bring to Blackboard. Hadi mentioned that it would be useful to organize what documentation was available and include Best practices that could be added to the current documentation. Lisa agreed indicating that it would be good to organize the available quick start guides, add new quick start guides, and add them to a more public location for all to find. Hadi asked Lisa, Cindy, and Anne-Marie what they thought about faculty needs for accessibility. Anne-Marie wrote "Faculty will be interested in the specific AT or design that will be appropriate when the student requests assistance. Otherwise, they do not usually ask for assistance or design help. Regarding Blackboard, it would be useful to faculty to know that they can assure their students who might be using AT that the Assignments, for example, can be viewable in a screen reader, . . ." Cindy mentioned that educators need to know that accessibility is needed to be included in their documents provided on blackboard. Cindy believed the focus should be more on Universal design because, in considering accessibility for students with disabilities (accessibility that goes beyond what UD can provide) requires documentation from students, which we do not want to get into. Her concern is that if we talk in terms of providing accessibility for students with disabilities rather than in terms of universal design, red flags will be raised among disability providers. Hadi said that on the discussion list we should discuss exactly what documentation the committee agrees on to be developed to fill in where gaps exist. The committee needs to be on the same page on the topics and audiences that content needs to be created regard accessibility to Blackboard for possibly new quick start guides.

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