[Pibe-division] inaccessible online classrooms/assessments etc.

Andy & Sally Thomas andysally at comcast.net
Wed Nov 19 05:10:09 CST 2008

Inaccessible on-line learning materials begin in Kindergarten.  Many schools use the Accelerated Reader program.  Last year in 5th grade my son's history curriculum was on line in an inaccessible format.  Most often the solution has been to read the materials to him.  His history teacher would often exempt him from work.  It is a huge problem that is only getting worse.  Even though there is a textbook law, many schools don't use the textbooks they buy.  I reported this lack of access to the curriculum on the NFB books on time survey.  I hope more people talk about this and that this issue is brought to the forefront because it is obviously getting worse fast.

Sally Thomas
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Rene Harrell 
  To: NFBnet Blind Kid Mailing List,(for parents of blind children) ; Professionals in Blindness Education Division List ; Parents of Blind Children State Presidents List 
  Sent: Tuesday, November 18, 2008 11:51 PM
  Subject: [Pibe-division] inaccessible online classrooms/assessments etc.

  Can we discuss online learning and assessments a bit? I'd love some more information and feedback on this topic.

  It's come up recently in my State about a growing problem with online curricula and assessments not being accessible to blind/low-vision children who need to use screen readers or magnification software. I know there was a discussion on a parent listerv that encompasses all disabilities about a family that was attempting to use K-12 for their homeschool program, but could not because it is not accessible to blind children. When called, the company said it was a "copyright" issue and could not make their program compatible with screen readers. I've heard from a smattering of other parents about tests that have had to be modified because they were online in an inaccessible format.

  There was quite a discussion going on about this today on a policy/educator level. TVIs are expressing frustration that more and more of the school districts are turning to online curricula and assessments, but they are inaccessible to blind children. They complain to the school, but the school says it is a vendor issue. So far, complaints to vendors haven't brought about any changes to the current software being used and distributed. 

  My daughter is homeschooled so this is an issue I have not had to confront or deal with personally. But, it seems to be a growing problem for students and teachers here, and they're trying to figure out what they can do about it. I'd love to hear about how others have worked around this issue, or if this has been a problem for anyone else? Are these software companies violating ADA for making their programs inaccessible? 

  As more and more colleges turn towards online formats, and K-12 school districts follow suit, I wonder if we're going to see this become a growing issue in the years ahead? What kind of steps can we take to be proactive on this issue? 

  Wisdom and thoughts are appreciated. 


  " I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be."
  -- Douglas Adam


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