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: 2006-08-15

Time: 1:30 PM CDT


Hello Everyone,

I have been waiting for Terry to confirm the call-in number for next teleconference to send this reminder but as of now I haven't heard from him back.
Terry, could you please send the phone number for the next teleconference? If because of any reason the time spot we are looking for is not available, I can get a local number here. Please let me know.

Next teleconference info:

Date: Tuesday August 15 2006
Time; 1:30 PM CDT (Chicago time)
Phone: TBA

1. Finalizing the list of common modules
2. Identifying the versions most members are running
3. Finding volunteers to perform accessibility testing based on the evaluation form
4. Discuss the accessibility evaluation form and its questions

It would be great if you could confirm if you are intending to participate in the next teleconference. You don't need to send it to the list you can send it to

We would like also to find out what version of Blackboard everyone is using. It is possible that not every member can join us next Tuesday to talk about it so if you could send a quick note and let us know about the BB version you are running, it would be great. Such information will help us to focus on the accessibility problems of the most commonly used version of BB while at the same time we can provide BB with our accessibility feedback for the upcoming releases.


Hello Everyone,

I would like to remind everyone for our todays teleconference and wanted to ask to look into the 3 evaluation report pages below before the teleconference if possible:

Test Manager->Add Assessment:

Course Tools->Calendar (view mode):

[selected course]->Tools

Date: Tuesday August 15 2006
Time; 1:30 PM CDT (Chicago time)
Phone: 800 503-2899; Access code: 2256060 

1. Finalizing the list of common modules
2. Identifying the versions most members are running
3. Finding volunteers to perform accessibility testing based on the evaluation form
4. Discuss the accessibility evaluation form and its questions

Talk to you later.


Blackboard Teleconference Meeting Minutes, August 15, 2006

Hadi Bargi Rangin (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) 
Jon Gunderson (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Terry Thompson (AccessIT, University of Washington) 
Laurie Harrison (University of Toronto) 
Will Murray, Blackboard

I. Updates from Will on getting group participants access to a common
Blackboard interface for testing        
a. Will can set us up with "Blackboard Connections" accounts        
b. Blackboard Connections is the same system used internally for
product testing         
c. We would have access to a fully-functional, non-customized
installation of the Learning Learning System        
d. Can possibly get access to multiple versions (6.3, 7.0, 7.1, 7.2)
- he'll look into this        
e. Focus will be on the latest version (7.1), since that's the
version receiving most of the development effort         
f. Work with older versions is a lesser priority, but will allow us
to identify "hot fixes" for particularly problematic issues         
g. Each user will have their own account, rather than setting up one
catch-all account for us all to share        
h. Interested participants will need to provide their name and email
to Will - additional information about setting up our accounts is
i. Will also said he would cast a wider net within Bb, and would
forward information about our group to Bb support groups, ASP group, etc. so
other clients who contact Bb about accessibility can learn about  and
possibly get involved with our group)

II. Blackboard's Other Accessibility Contacts         
a. Terry asked how our accessibility assessments compares with that
provided by other groups        
b. Will described previous consultation from Tech Access        
  - focused on compliance with standards        
  - Bb is more interested now in looking at the end-user experience
(beyond standards compliance)        
c. Jon asked about WebAIM and TLT Group, both of which are
referenced (along with other groups) on Bb's Accessibility Projects page:           
  Will, being new to Bb, hasn't specifically had involvement yet
with either of these groups

III. Blackboard and W3C         
a. Jon recommended that Bb get involved with the W3C, particularly
with an interest in accessibility         
b. Jon particularly noted the work of the WAI Protocols and Formats
Working Group (PFWG):         
c. The PFWG is having a meeting in Boston on Sep 17-18 focusing
specifically on dynamic accessible web content         
  Jon will send Will additional information about this meeting. 

IV. Feedback on Checklist Forms

a. Terry described his perspective that there are two primary
questions that we're interested in:          
  1. Is the Bb interface accessible?        
  2. Does Bb support development of accessible course content?         
b. Jon stressed the need for the latter.         
  - Currently it's easier to create inaccessible content than to
create accessible content.        
  - Authoring tools need to create accessible content by default,
and to provide an audit and/or automatic enforcement of accessibility
  - MFS&W (
) has done some exemplary work in
this area         
  - Accessible Web Publishing Wizard
) is also a good model         
c. Terry expressed that some items on the checklist forms seem to be
more course/instructor-dependent, rather than related to Bb's interface. How
to separate the two?         
d. Laurie cited differences in course content in WebCT (typically
HTML) vs. Bb, where the framework lends itself to authors uploading content
in proprietary formats, such as Word Docs, Powerpoint, PDF, etc.  The issues
surrounding accessible course content therefore become more complex.         
e. Hadi reiterated his request for more feedback on the checklist,
and on the assessments that he has submitted using these checklists so far.         
f. Laurie will try the checklist in an evaluation situation, and
will be better able at that point to provide this feedback.  

V. Categorization for Assessments        
a. Hadi has posted a revised categorization system:        
b. Unless there are objections to these categories, we now need to
divide the categories up among those who have expressed interest.         
c. Terry provided results of the informal survey regarding
willingness and ability to participate:        
  5 said "yes", 6 said "no", 1 set "maybe"        
d. Terry will contact those who responded "yes" and "maybe" about
their preferred categories        
e. Laurie asked Will whether Bb has any data on which Bb tools are
used most frequently. She pointed out that institutions often track their
utilization of IT resources internally.        
 - Will doesn't think Bb tracks anything at this level. Doing so
would be complicated since most institutions maintain their own
installation.  Most of the information Bb has is anecdotal. 

VI. Blackboard's patent        
a. In the context of Bb's recent law suit of Desire2Learn over
patent infringement, Jon asked Will whether we should be concerned that Bb
would incorporate our accessibility ideas, then attempt to patent  them. As
an example, he cited other companies' attempts to patent "easy access"
software features that were originally developed by the Trace Center.          
b. Will, speaking as a Bb employee, said he didn't feel that Bb had
any such intention, and that doing so would be counterproductive. He also
said that there are many misconceptions being propagated on  the Internet
about Bb's patent and the Desire2Learn law suit. Blackboard has a web page
devoted to clarifying these misconceptions, and will forward the URL to the
c. Jon expressed a desire to receive some commitment from higher
officials within Bb that they share Will's perspective. 


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