We strive to create an environment for collaboratively developing, freely sharing, and rapidly publishing scholarly content on the Web. Our content repository contains educational materials for everyone — from children to college students to professionals.
As part of this mission, we are committed to making our content repository accessible to users with disabilities, allowing us to serve a wider audience, extend our community, and provide for greater collaboration and sharing of ideas. We are also aware that many organizations that may wish to take advantage of the site, including schools and government offices, are required by policy or law to accommodate users with disabilities, and are fully committed to working with these groups to meet their needs.
We encourage users with disabilities or those supporting users with accessibility requirements to contact us regarding any feature requests, technical difficulties, or general feedback you may have. We are actively growing our support for assistive technologies and are happy to work withindividuals and groups to ensure their needs are met.
Why Connexions is Concerned with Open Access
Connexions is an environment for collaboratively developing, freely sharing, and rapidly publishing scholarly content on the Web. Our Content Commons contains educational materials for everyone — from children to college students to professionals.
As part of this mission, we are committed to making our Content Commons accessible to users with disabilities, allowing us to serve a wider audience, extend our community, and provide for greater collaboration and sharing of ideas. We are also aware that many organizations that may wish to take advantage of Connexions, including schools and government offices, are required by policy or law to accommodate users with disabilities, and are fully committed to working with these groups to meet their needs.
Several features have been built into the Connexions site in order to facilitate keyboard navigation, particularly for those visitors using screen reading technologies.
All Connexions pages make use of HTML header tags, sometimes nested five or six deep, in order to create a clearly defined hierarchy of page elements. H1 tags, for example, are used to mark the beginning of the page as well as the beginning of the main body of the page content, while subordinate header tags (such as H2, H3, etc.) are used for elements within their respective parent elements. This creates a well-defined page structure that can be easily read and navigated by screen readers and other content-parsing software.
You can browse by header by using the
h key, or browse by header level by using the number keys. For instance, the sequence
11 will take you to the second H1 header, which is the beginning of the main body of the page content. The sequence
12 will take you to the first H2 following the first H1, which is the Table of Contents section on collections and modules in a collection context.
Note: Each page contains a number of sidebar portlets designed to provide easy access to various site features and related content. Due to technical reasons, these portlets are designed using a mix of header structures and definitions lists. While it is worth pointing out that this structure is somewhat unusual, we do not anticipate this causing problems for most users.
Connexions has provided authors with a number of tools for making their content more accessible to users with disabilities. While we cannot guarantee that every author of every module will take advantage of these features, we are working to improve our authors' awareness of the importance of these issues. We are also currently working to improve our content editor, Edit-In-Place, to make authoring accessible content easier. If you come across content that does not conform to accessibility standards, you may wish to contact the authors directly and ask them to consider updating their works accordingly.
Alt Text for Images and Media
Providing alt text for images and other media allows authors to convey information about that media to users that are not able to access the media itself. For example, a user with limited vision may not be able to view a bar graph, but would be able to use a screen reader to hear a description of that graph if one is provided.
Connexions provides support for alt text for all media elements. For situations where more detailed descriptions are required, authors may also attach a longdesc file to the module.
Connexions supports a number of features designed to improve the reading of tables by screen readers. In addition to header and footer rows, authors can also specify a column of row headers. These identifiers allow screen readers to properly interpret tabular data and allow users to navigate a table using well-defined structures. Connexions also supports the use of table summaries and captions, allowing authors to convey information about the table as a whole that may not be obvious to non-sighted users.
Connexions currently uses JAWS 9 to test content and features for accessibility purposes. This is the recommended platform for users requiring screen reading technologies. If you use another product and are experiencing difficulty accessing content, please contact us with details and we will be happy to work with you to resolve your problem.
Connexions supports MathML (http://www.w3.org/Math), a specialized XML language recognized by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) as the standard for marking up mathematical symbols and equations. One advantage of using MathML is that browsers can treat math-related content as text, allowing them to resize expressions and equations to match the user's preferred font size without losing detail or clarity.
Depending on your browser, you may need to install third-party software in order to properly view MathML content:
- For Internet Explorer (version 6 or later), you can download the MathPlayer plugin. This option is currently the best option for those using screen reading software.
- For Firefox 2, you can download additional fonts. Firefox 2 provides native support for MathML, and these fonts allow for the proper display of mathematical symbols.
- Firefox 3 provides native MathML and font support and does not require additional software to be installed.
Note: At this time, the JAWS screen reading software does not properly read all MathML content when used with the Firefox web browser. For users requiring screen reading software, Connexions strongly recommends using Internet Explorer with MathPlayer installed.
If you see strange characters in a mathematical expression, it is likely that your browser does not support MathML or does not have the appropriate third-party software installed. These situations can usually be resolved by using one of the browser configurations listed above.
A handful of modules in the Content Commons have been converted to Braille-Ready Format (.brf) files. These files can be downloaded and used to create Braille versions of the content without any additional translation. If this option is available, a "Download as Braille" link will appear at the end of the page.
Please let us know if you need any assistance with Braille versions of Connexions content, or if you have already translated Connexions materials and would like to share those translations with the community.
Connexions is committed to working with all users to ensure that they have access to materials in our Content Commons. As assistive technologies and conventions continue to evolve, we encourage users with disabilities to contact us and tell us what we are doing right and what we might do better in the future.
Suggestions for Content
For problems involving the module content, please contact the author of that module using the link provided at the bottom of each page. Examples of content issues include:
- Missing alt text for images
- Requests for video transcripts or captions
- Suggestions for table markup, including table summaries, row headers, and column headers
Suggestions for Site Features
For problems with or suggestions for the website, please contact Connexions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Examples of site issues include:
- Requests for new features
- Problems with site navigation
- Reports of technical difficulties
- Suggestions for ways to make accessibility easier for authors