Title: Annotating educational discussion boards to help students who are blind

Authors: Maria Luisa Sapino, K. Selcuk Candan, Jong Wook Kim, Fabrizio Antonelli

Addresses: Dipartimento di Informatica, Universita di Torino, Torino, 10149, Italy. ' CSE Department, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA. ' CSE Department, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA. ' Dipartimento di Informatica, Universita di Torino, Torino, 10149, Italy

Abstract: Educational discussion boards are growing in use as they help students share knowledge and doubts in a working/studying environment. Although these interactive tools are highly effective in learning environments, their usability by blind students is very poor. In this paper we develop techniques to improve accessibility of educational content for students who are blind. Threads of messages in discussion boards evolve with new postings, thus just by investigating the subject headings or contents of earlier postings in a message thread, students may not be able to guess the contents of the postings deeper in the hierarchy. In order to overcome the navigation obstacle for users, it is essential to develop techniques that help identify how the content of a discussion board grows. We develop a technique to organise messages in a message board, by automatically classifying and annotating postings to guide users through discussion segments relevant to their navigational goals.

Keywords: website accessibility; navigation; message boards; rule-based classification; educational discussion boards; postings annotation; blind students; e-learning; online learning; web-based education.

DOI: 10.1504/IJCEELL.2007.015044

International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long Learning, 2007 Vol.17 No.4/5, pp.294 - 318

Published online: 06 Sep 2007 *

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