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Teaching Web Accessibility to Disabled Students

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From: Kynn Bartlett
Date: Nov 17, 2003 9:40PM


Hi everyone,

As you probably know, I teach online classes in Web accessibility
through IWA-HWG (formerly HTML Writers Guild)'s eClasses program.
"D201: Accessible Web Design" is the intro class, and has been taught
pretty much continuously since 1998.

During that time I've had a number of blind students (as well as
students with other disabilities), and I've made accommodations for
them in the assignments. It's not too hard to do, because the class
is designed to introduce the basics, and not necessarily get into
the nitty-gritty -- so most of the class assignments are exploratory
in nature. The exercise from Week Three -- which is posted as a
"free sample lesson" -- is a good example of this:

http://access.idyllmtn.com/d201/sample/hands-on.html

It's not hard to adapt the course material in a case like that.

However, the newer course, D202: Web Accessibility Techniques, is a
more technically rigorous class, and includes specific exercises
for the students to complete. For example, "Take this broken page
which doesn't have ALT text, and provide the appropriate ALT (and
LONGDESC if necessary)."

Or, "Here's a page with crummy color contrast. How would you fix
it?" The students complete these exercises and upload them for grading.

Now, the question here is "how do I make such a course accessible to
a student who can't see the images or colors?" The whole purpose of
the course is to give hands-on experience in designing accessible
Web sites -- but if you are disabled, you may not actually be able
to "fix" a broken site. (If you could, it would likely be
accessible-by-definition.)

I'd like to hear some advice on what to do in this specific
situation, as well as general comments on the issue of teaching
accessible Web design to students who may themselves be unable to
perceive, comprehend, or use the course material.

NOTE: In general, the course itself is designed to be accessible;
it is only the exercises which are lacking in accessibility. That,
and an external reading assignment on colo(u)r contrast, which
uses color images to illustrate colorblindness.

Thanks in advance,

--Kynn

--
Kynn Bartlett < <EMAIL REMOVED> > http://kynn.com
Chief Technologist, Idyll Mountain http://idyllmtn.com
Shock & Awe Blog http://shock-awe.info
Author, CSS in 24 Hours http://cssin24hours.com
Inland Anti-Empire Blog http://inlandantiempire.org


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