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: 2007-05-21

Time: 2:30 PM EDT; 1:30 PM CDT; 12:30 PM MDT; 11:30 AM PDT



Blackboard/WebCT Accessibility teleconference minutes 05/21/2007
Scribe: Terry Thompson & Hadi Rangin

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Jon provided an update on the letters to Blackboard. To date, 11 letters have been received. A few more are expected, and Jon is currently engaged in a discussion with SLATE (a Blackboard users group) which might result in additional letters. His hope is to send the letters out around Memorial Day.

Scott confirmed an interest in inviting one or two of us to D.C. in August to provide accessibility awareness and training. Blackboard's Product Management team is organizing the event, and they want to get a more complete understanding of accessibility in preparation for next generation development. They would particularly build time into the event to meet and discuss accessibility with QA and developers. By the next meeting, Scott says he should have specific dates and an agenda Scott provided an update on his efforts to get QA and Support to participate in our group. He has identified a specific contact within Support who is interested either in participating, or in delegating to a TSM. Scott will send Hadi his contact's name and email and Hadi will send him the meeting schedule.

QA hasn't been as prompt in responding. Scott has worked his way up to a QA manager and is going to try to follow up with that person to try to identify a point person.

Hadi asked Scott whether anyone from Blackboard would be attending the Web 2.0 workshop that Jon is offering at UIUC. By meeting's end Scott confirmed that he has the details about that event and will see if he can get the budget approval for someone to receive in that training.

Jon asked Scott whether there are other development groups where we could be involved, since there are currently three of us all involved in Gradebook, which seems like an efficient distribution of our limited resources (all our peas in one pod).  Scott said he's not aware of any other customer groups, and explained that most development is currently focused on the architectural aspects of next generation products. Customer groups will follow later. Scott said it was OK to mention publicly that we are participating on the Product Development Partners teams for Gradebook. 

Terry asked for clarification regarding the logistical details of the merger of WebCT and Blackboard Interest Groups. Scott proposed setting aside time at BBWorld in Boston in July to get input from Blackboard on the merger, but no one present from the Accessibility group is planning to attend BBWorld this year. Hadi intends to merge the discussion lists and websites before the next meeting, and plans to keep scenarios, video clips, and other developed resources online for historical purposes.

Terry asked whether there was value in continuing our efforts to evaluate and/or document accessibility issues with current products. Scott said we were more likely to have an influence on next generation development.

Terry also pointed out the benefit of tracking problems, solutions, and workarounds, not just for the purpose of influencing Blackboard, but as a resource for people in the field who are working to provide access to students with disabilities. Jon pointed out several complications in building and maintaining a database like this (e.g., issues vary across product versions, too few people participating) and suggested that a repository like this would be better if maintained by Blackboard, since they have more resources, are on the front line of support for their products and therefore are likely to be contacted about accessibility issues, and are the logical first stop for people looking for this information.

Regarding the current WebCT issue tracking system, Hadi explained that the system maintained by UIUC was not in synch with the system that Blackboard used, and as a result Robert hadn't actively used the UIUC system to close issues after they had been resolved. He asked Scott if he would be able to look through the open issues and determine whether they had been resolved.

Scott said he would look through the huge stack of materials that Robert had left him and see if there was relevant information there.

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