Time: 1:30 PM CDT
Hello Everyone, After a series of online and offline correspondences it seems that next Tuesday works for most people. So I would like to call for the second Blackboard Accessibility Teleconference for next Tuesday August 1st at 1:30 PM CDT (Chicago time). Terry Thompson offered to host the next teleconference but as of now the call-in number is not yet specified. It will be posted to the list very soon. But for now, please mark your calendar for next Tuesday August 1st at 1:30 PM Chicago time (11:30 AM Pacific time or 2:30 PM Eastern time). The teleconference information will be also posted at our Blackboard Accessibility Interest Group site at: http://cita.uiuc.edu/collaborate/blackboard/ Meantime, please send your feedback to the list and let us start recording accessibility issues with Blackboard. Thanks to Shary McCurdy from University of Illinois at Springfield who created a Blackboard account for me and populated the account with some real data. This will allow me to experience the accessibility of the Blackboard first hand. So let us your comments coming... Thanks, Hadi PS: Hi All, Here's the access information for the second Blackboard Accessibility Teleconference, next Tuesday August 1st at 11:30AM Pacific, 12:30PM Mountain, 1:30PM Central, and 2:30PM Eastern... Phone number: 1-800-503-2899 Access code: 2256060 Terry
Blackboard Teleconference Meeting Minutes, August 1, 2006 Present: Hadi Bargi Rangin (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) Terry Thompson (AccessIT, University of Washington) Laurie Harrison (University of Toronto) Barbara Knauff, Dartmouth Robert Dumas, Blackboard Will Murray, Blackboard The question "Does anyone volunteer to be notetaker?" was met with uncomfortable silence. Finally Terry stepped up. Participants compared which versions of Blackboard they're currently using. Hadi, who at the previous meeting did not have Blackboard access, now has access to a Blackboard 7.1 account. Terry is using 7.1. Laurie is using 7.0, but an upgrade is in the works. Will confirmed that 7.1 is the latest public release Hadi reported that the discussion list now has over 30 subscribers. Will has not been getting the emails - Hadi will add him to the list. Terry raised the question of whether wikis play a role in facilitating our work, as had been recently proposed and discussed on the discussion list. Hadi described the research that he and colleagues had done on the accessibility of wikis, and while some products showed more promise than others, all of the products tested had accessibility problems, specifically in editing mode. Will said he would avoid using a wiki for our regular communications, since it would require proactive monitoring, as opposed to the discussion list which gets pushed to participants. He noted, however, that a wiki might play a role in the future as list traffic grows and conversations become more focused, e.g., a specific task force could conduct their work using a wiki. Hadi asked the Blackboard representatives how Blackboard developers were exposed to accessibility, e.g., whether there were internal guidelines. Will said that developers use a style guide, and that Blackboard is working to better address accessibility within that style guide. He also described accessibility seminars that had been provided to developers in response to their third party accessibility audit. Both Will and Robert spoke to Blackboard's desire to be proactive, and to develop future products that worked for all users up-front, rather than requiring a "band-aid approach". The bulk of the meeting time was spent in discussion regarding appropriate categories for organizing our accessibility evaluations. Terry had documented his perspective of Blackboard's overall structure in an email to the list on July 27, and asked whether the top-level categories (those items appearing by default in the Blackboard navigation frame) could be used as an organizational structure, or whether greater specificity was needed, particularly within "Tools". Hadi pointed out that on the WebCT evaluation form, users select a primary category from a list, but can provide further specificity in an open-ended "sub-category" field. Additional specificity can be provided by the evaluator by describing the full breadcrumb path to the resource and/or by attaching a snapshot image of a screen that's being evaluated. Barbara pointed out that the navigational menu items are highly customizable both by the institution and by individuals. The only items that seem to have a consistent interface across all flavors of Blackboard are "Announcements", "Instructor Information", "Communication", and "Tools", with others falling generally under "Content Areas" and being highly customizable. Laurie proposed structuring not by navigation menu, but by functional unit, as defined within the Blackboard Control Panel. Some discussion followed regarding the variety of Blackboard experiences: a single version of Blackboard can be delivered differently to users due to customization at the institution level, licensing differences, or the installation of building block (third party) plug-ins. Will confirmed that Blackboard differs from WebCT in that it doesn't explicitly provide distinct student vs. instructor views. Instead, both student and instructor largely share the same view, and instructor-only features (such as "Modify" links) are embedded throughout the interface. In order to ensure that we're comparing apples with apples, Will of Blackboard will put together documentation regarding core features that are consistent for all Blackboard users, and will investigate the possibility of providing our group access to a test environment. He mentioned that Blackboard does quality control testing using a "perfect course" that has all possible features enabled, and he'll investigate whether we could access that. However, he cautioned that a "perfect course" may not yield the best results since some basic features may appear to be broken or inaccessible, but only in the presence of other higher-level features that may or may not be present for users in a real world installation. He will consider all of these issues and get back to us prior to the next meeting. Once we hear back from Will, we can resume our discussion of how best to structure and organize our accessibility evaluations. Once this structure and organization is in place, we can divide up modules among anyone who is interested and able to participate. Until then, Hadi has already expressed an interest in evaluating features related to assessment, and Terry has expressed an interest in evaluating the Discussion Board. Next meeting: Aug 15 at 11:30am Pacific, 12:30pm Mountain, 1:30pm Central, 2:30pm Eastern Terry Thompson
- Please contact Hadi Rangin (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested to work to be included in any of the collaboration groups.