Blackboard Learn Screen Reader Tutorial

Acknowledgements

Blackboard would like to thank George Washington University for the use of their facilities for testing and meeting to complete this tutorial. Thank you to the faculty and staff, including Howie Southworth, the Instructional Developmental Specialist at the University for arranging plans for the project. Thank you to Denna Lambert, a GWU graduate student, who took the time to explain her successes and frustrations with Blackboard and JAWS.

Blackboard would like to acknowledge the time, expertise, and effort put forth by the members of the Blackboard Accessibility User Group, and specifically the Documentation Sub-Group. This group of highly dedicated professionals assisted with the design and content in this document. Their ongoing work provides us with assessment and feedback for future improvements. We appreciate all of the time that everyone put into this project.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Login to Blackboard
  3. Portal Layout
  4. Course Pages
  5. Appendix

Introduction

The Blackboard Learn Screen Reader Tutorial provides users that access Blackboard Learn through a screen reader with information to help them use Blackboard Learn successfully.

Notes

Read the following notes before you begin maneuvering through Blackboard Learn.

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Login to Blackboard Learn

There are no frames on the login page. There are two edit fields on the Login page. Your cursor is automatically placed in the first field requesting your username. Enter your username, the next edit field asks for your password. Enter your password and then select "Login".

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Portal Layout

My Institution Page

Course Pages

Layout

The frame structure for Course pages is the same as the My Institution Page. The Course menu is docked on the left side of the screen and all of the Course content displays to the right of the menu. The Orientation bar is just under the standard navigation frame; it contains the breadcrumbs for you to distinguish where you have traveled to in your course.

Due to the high level of customization options available to instructors, some tools may or may not be available to you. The order can be rearranged and the names can change as well. Here is a list of the Tools and their functions that are available for instructors to add to their courses.

Please be aware that Instructors can delete the links they do not plan on using or they can rename links to fit their needs. For example, your Instructor could rename "Course Materials" and call it "Syllabus". Instructors can also change the order of the links.

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Course Announcements

Course Announcements are viewed in the content frame of your course. The most recent Announcement will be listed first. You have the option to view your system announcements, course announcements or all announcements. These links are located at the top right of the announcements page as links.

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Course Objectives

Instructors can post any information pertaining to their course on this page. They also have the ability to modify or delete the page if they feel it does not fit their course model.

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Contacts

Contacts is used for Instructors to list their contact information and office hours. If you would like to add any contacts for your own use, you will need to do so through the Address Book located on the My Institution page.

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Assignments

Assignments does not appear in the Tools page list. Instructors have the option to display the Assignments tool in their Course Menu. Many different kinds of assignments could be posted to this page. Types of Assignments could include a description of a homework reading assignment and response paper or a request to turn a writing assignment in online.

Turning in an Assignment

Some assignments will be listed with a submission form. The form contains a text box, buttons to attach local files, and a comments box. When you are finished filling in the appropriate information in the form you can Submit your assignment to your Instructor.

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Course Documents

Course Documents do not appear on the Tools page list. Instructors have the option to display the Course Documents tool in their Course Menu. The items on this page are at the complete discretion of the Instructor.

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Learning Modules

A Learning Module is a collection of Content Items focused on a specific subject that you can navigate at your own pace. Learning Modules can be used to present any type of course information. When you open a Learning Module a table of contents and content area will display in the content frame. The table of contents lists the links to the items within the Learning Module for you to track your progress.

Content within a Learning Module is added and managed, by your Instructor, just like content in a Content Folder. The Learning Module is a shell into which other content, such as files, tools, and assessments are added.

Instructors can create a structured path for progressing through the items. The path can be set so that students must view content sequentially, or set to permit users to view the content in any order. If you must view the path sequentially, the items in the Table of Contents will only display a hyperlink for the current page you are viewing, the page before, and the page after. Once you move through, the next item in the Table of Contents will become a hyperlink. If there is no path set, all the items in the Table of Contents will appear as hyperlinks and you can move through the content in any order.

Items in the Table of Contents can be expanded and collapsed. These items can be listed using letters or numbers. Learning Modules can be set to open in a new browser window or open within the Content frame.

If the Learning Module is set to open in a new window you will be able to view the Course and its contents at the same time as the Learning Module. You will be able to navigate to other areas and keep the Learning Module open in the separate window. If the Learning Module is set to open within the Content frame it keeps you within the Course while you are viewing the content. You can follow links within the Learning Module and still remain in the Content frame. Once you navigate away from the Learning Module by selecting an item on the Menu, the link will close and they will be returned to the Content Area page.

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Collaboration Tool

Blackboard’s Accessible Chat tool uses the Java Accessibility API to provide keyboard shortcuts and descriptive Tool Tips (alt tags), that screen readers can use to help you navigate through the chat. Some screen readers may work directly with the Java Accessibility API. However, some, such as JAWS for Windows, require an additional utility, the Java Access Bridge.

Download the access bridge from http://java.sun.com/products/accessbridge/ (this link will open in a new window, or tab in Firefox)

*Please be aware that in some cases JAWS will not read the Chat tool as being viewed. Inform your Instructor if you encounter any problems entering or not being able to read the chat. It is recommended that you discuss alternate methods of communication with your Instructor if this becomes an issue.

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Discussion Board

In the Discussion Board tool, you can:

Read the suggestions below on how to interact with this page in the most efficient manner when using a screen reader.

Search for a Forum

You can search in the Discussion board two different ways. You can search in the "Current Discussion Board" or "All Forums in Course". The Search feature is button located in the Content Frame on the main Discussion Board page. Click the button and the search criteria will open under the Discussion Board title. Enter in your Search criteria and select a search option from the menu. You have the option to select a specific date if you want to refine your search. Select the "Go" button when you are finished entering in your search criteria.

Choose a Forum

The first page in the Discussion Board tool lists all of the available forums for the class or organization. The Forums are organized into a table on the main page. The headings are: "Forum", "Description", "Total Posts", "Unread Posts", and "Total Participants". "Participants" is the number of students that have posted a response to the Forum or Thread. In the table, the title of the discussion board is a link, and it is followed by a description in the next column. You can enter a discussion board forum by selecting the title link. If you select a Forum that does not contain any posts you will hear, "No items found". To return to the main Discussion Board page after hearing this message select the "OK" button on the bottom right of the page.

Find a Message

Once you have entered a Forum, you will be in the central discussion page that lists all the Threads and available features in that Forum. Threads branch off from each Forum. Within each Thread there are individual Posts from the participants. The Thread is read as a link. Also listed is the total number of posts and the number of unread posts. Each reply post will be named as a response with the same title as the Thread. You can sort the list by selecting one of the following columns: "Date", "Thread" (alphabetical order), "Author" (alphabetical order), "Status" (published, draft, etc.), "Unread Posts", and "Total Posts".

For ease of use, you can read all of the unread posts in a thread by selecting the "Unread Posts" link. One of the new features in Blackboard Learn is the use of Contextual Menus. These menus are buttons that drop down with a list of options. There is an option from the contextual menu next to the thread name to "Mark as Read" for when you have finished reading the post.

Read a Message

Once you enter a forum, select the thread of which messages you want to read. You can either select the link of the name of the thread or select the thread by "checking" the thread name and selecting the "Collect" button above the Forum table.

Reply to a Post

To reply to a post, select the "Reply" button in the same frame as the post that you would like to reply to. The subject of the message is a default reply with the subject of the original post. Enter your own message in the text box. Attach any necessary files. You have the option to save a draft of your message that you can return to later. When you are finished, select the Submit button on the bottom right hand corner of the page.

Create a New Thread

To create a new Thread enter the Forum to which you want to respond to. Select the Create Thread button under the Forum title. Enter a subject to your message. The subject should be a subtopic of the Forum title/ instructions. Enter your message into the text box. Attach any necessary files. You have the option to save a draft of your message that you can return to later. When you are finished, select Submit.

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Course Calendar

The Course Calendar functions the same as the Calendar that is available from your My Institution page. If you want to create a personal event you can only do so through the My Institution Calendar. The Course Calendar is only for you to view events posted by your Instructor.

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Glossary

The Glossary is made by your Instructor and contains a list of terms pertinent to your course. The Glossary is organized alphabetically. You can select a hyperlink of the letter of the terms that you wish to view. Only the letters that have terms listed under them are listed, so the entire alphabet may not be present.

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My Grades

Reading your grades through Course Tools is similar to "viewing your grades" from your My Institution page. The same page of grades is read; however, you do not need to select the specific course because you are already in the course for which grades you want to see.

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Course Tasks

The Course Tasks function the same way as the Tasks from your My Institution page. The only difference is that within a course, you do not have the ability to create your own task; the tasks are set by your Instructor. You can still update the status of your tasks within a course but you can only Add a Task from the My Institution Task page.

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Blogs

Blogs are set up by your Instructor. For example, if you are assigned to a Group, your Instructor can create a blog for that group and only those group members can post to that blog. This is similar to the Journal Tool as you are creating entries to be read by other participants instead of your Instructor.

How to... Create a Blog Post

How to... Comment on a Blog

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Journals

Journals are a new feature in Blackboard Learn. Instructors can assign a journal to each user in a Course or Course Group that is accessible by only them and the user in order to communicate privately with the Instructor. Users can post messages to the Instructor and the Instructor, in turn, can comment. Instructors can allow Journal entries to be read by the rest of the users in a Course.

Open the Journal by clicking the Journal title link. Select the Create Journal Entry button under the Journal title. The form is like all other forms in Blackboard Learn. Enter a title for your journal entry. Enter your response in the text box. Attach any necessary file. You also have the option to save your entry as a draft and return to it later. Once you are finished, select the Post Entry button on the bottom right hand corner of the page.

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Wikis

Wikis are a collaborative tool that allows you to contribute and modify one or more pages of related material. Wikis can also be used as a resources for you to view information and content relevant to your courses. Follow the instructions that your instructor sets for the Wikis within your Course. Depending on how your Course is organized students and instructors can create their own Wikis. Your instructor may have the Course set up so that only they can create a wiki for you to edit and contribute to.

Wikis must have a homepage before you can add new pages. Either you or your Instructor will need to do this. Once a Wiki has been created you can edit it clicking the name of the Wiki to access the home page. Click the Create Wiki Page button to add your own page. You can edit the page you are currently viewing by clicking the Edit Wiki Content button.

It is possible to link Wiki pages to each other to create an order or hierarchy to the Wiki. To add a link you must be editing the page you want to add a link to. Two Wiki pages must exist to create links. The option to create a link is provided within the text box editor. Click the Link to Wiki Page button. A new window will open, Select the page you want to links to. Renaming the Wiki Page Link is optional. Click Submit when you are finished.

To view your overall participation within the Wiki, click the My Contribution button. This page lists the page versions you have edited, the date the page was created, and how many words you modified. To add comments to a Wiki page click the Comment button. A text box will open for you to enter text. Click Add when you are finished. Comments are expandable below the page text.

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Groups

Groups can be set by your Instructor or by you. Groups is a tool used to keep students organized for a project or presentation. The following are options from the Group Page. Once you are a member of a Group there are specific tools that you and your group can use. There are Group Blogs, Discussion Boards, Journals, Tasks and File Exchange. All of these tools operated in the same way as the My Institution and Course Tools; the only difference is that it is just for your Group to use.

How to... Sign Up for a Group

To sign up for a group all you need to do is select the Sign Up button next to the group name. You will be taken to the Sign Up Sheet which lists the Group name, the members and the maximum members allowed. There is another Sign Up button that you need to select to complete the process. After you Sign Up your page will reload with the Group page you just joined. This page contains modules like the ones on your My Institution page. The modules include Group Properties, Group Tools, and Group Assignments. As with all pages containing modules, you have the option to customize the layout of the page using the accessible repositioning form as well as adding other personal modules.

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Messages

Messages are private and secure text-based communication that occurs within a Course and among Course members. Although similar to email, users must be logged into the Course to read and send Messages. The Messages page has two default folders in a table. The folders are Inbox and Sent. The table columns are Folder, Unread, and Total. You have two options from the main Messages page: Create Message and Create Folder.

How to... Create a Message

How to... Create a Folder

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Roster

The roster is a list of all of the students in your course. You can search for a specific user by First Name or Last Name in the search field or you can just select Go to list all of the users in the course.

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User Manual

The User Manual tool is a link to the online help for users.

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Send Email

From the Send Email page you will have the option to send email to All Users, All Groups, All Student Users, All Teach Assistant Users, All Instructor Users, Select Users, or Select Groups.

If you chose to send email to a set group of All of a type of user the "To" field of the Email will already be filled in. You only need to fill in the subject line and the message, attach any files and submit the Email.

If you select to send email to a Select User or Group you will need to select the users from the Items to Select box and click the right facing arrow to move the users to the Select Items box, then fill in the subject and message and submit.

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Appendix

JAWS Quick Keys

The following is a list of JAWS quick keys to use when Browsing the Internet. The information is provided by Freedom Scientific (link opens in a new window, or tab in Firefox). There are many other tables provided by the Freedom Scientific, please visit the Web site for more help if needed. JAWS also has its own help section if you cannot find what you are looking for.

Description Quick Key
Anchor A
Button B
Combo Box C
Different Type Element D
Edit Box E
Form Control F
Graphic G
Heading H
Item in a List I
Jump to Line J
Return to Previous Line SHIFT+J
Jump to Cell (Within Table) CTRL+WINDOWS Key+J
Return to Previous Table Cell CTRL+SHIFT+WINDOWS Key+J
Place Marker K
Temporary Place marker CTRL+K
List L
Frame M
Non Link Text N
Object Tag O
Paragraph P
Block Quote Q
Radio Button R
Same Type Element S
Table T
Unvisited Link U
Visited Link V
Check Box X
Division Z
Heading at Level 1 through 6
Step Past Element SHIFT+PERIOD
Step Before Element SHIFT+COMMA
Move to Next Clickable Element SLASH
Move to Previous Clickable Element SHIFT+SLASH
Select Clickable Element INSERT+CTRL+SLASH
Move to Next Landmark (formerly next Mouse Over Element) SEMICOLON
Move to Prior Landmark (formerly next Mouse Over Element) SHIFT+SEMICOLON
Select Landmark (formerly Mouse Over Element) INSERT+CTRL+SEMICOLON
Back a Page ALT+LEFT ARROW or BACKSPACE
Forward a Page ALT+RIGHT ARROW
Go to Home Page ALT+HOME
Refresh Page and Cache CTRL+F5
Stop Downloading Page ESC
Turn Full Screen Mode On/Off F11
Zoom In CTRL+PLUS or CTRL+MOUSE WHEEL UP
Zoom Out CTRL+MINUS or CTRL+MOUSE WHEEL DOWN
Zoom to 100% CTRL+0
Open Favorites TRL+I or ALT+A
Organize Favorites CTRL+B
Add Current Page to Favorites CTRL+D
Move to Address Bar ALT+D
Read Address Bar INSERT+A
List of Previously Typed Addresses F4
Move JAWS Cursor to Address Bar INSERT+A twice quickly
Virtual HTML Features INSERT+F3
Activate Mouse Over INSERT+CTRL+ENTER
Select Mouse Over Element INSERT+WINDOWS Key+SEMICOLON
View Basic Element Information INSERT+SHIFT+F1
View Advanced Element Information INSERT+CTRL+SHIFT+F1