Progress on Learning Apps Still Needed – Observations from an 11th Grader
I am a blind student about to go into eleventh grade. For the past few years, a number of my teachers have started to use partially inaccessible websites. While being inaccessible to my screen-reader, these websites make the life of the teacher much easier. As a result, I am the one who has to find a way to complete my work successfully and turn it in on time.
I have had to use a few websites including Edmodo, Duolingo, and Sapling Learning. For both Sapling Learning and Duolingo, much of each website is accessible. On Duolingo there were inaccessible pictures (no text alternatives to tell me what was in them) in addition to certain features, such as the translate function, being only accessible by mouse (which I can't use.)
On Sapling Learning, there were many symbols and diagrams that were just pictures, and therefore could not be accessed with a screen-reader. As a result, the best option for completing assignments on these two websites was to have a human reader read the questions aloud and then have me tell them which answer to put in. I really don't like that because I would much rather interact directly and independently.
I was able to create my user account on Edmodo, but after the initial set-up, Edmodo becomes very hard to use on Windows systems. The website has links, buttons, etc. that when clicked on, bring up a list with inaccessible links or with no apparent effect. The website also has various edit boxes with no apparent functions. However, because Edmodo has an app for the iPhone, I was able to use Edmodo just as effectively as my peers on that platform. The much simplified app still does everything required of it, including turning in assignments, and sending and receiving notes with teachers.
In short, school continues to throw me some curve balls, and though there is always a way to accomplish a task, accessibility helps the process run better and allows me to focus on learning, instead of accessibility issues.