scispace - formally typeset

Proceedings ArticleDOI

A cisco education tool accessible to the vision impaired

J. Hope1, B.R. von Konsky1, Iain Murray1, L. C. Chew1, B. Farrugia1 
23 Oct 2006-pp 235-236

TL;DR: iNetSim, a universally accessible network simulator, created to allow vision-impaired and sighted users to complete Cisco Certified Network Associate level two (CCNA 2) laboratory sessions, is described.

AbstractThis paper describes iNetSim, a universally accessible network simulator, created to allow vision-impaired and sighted users to complete Cisco Certified Network Associate level two (CCNA 2) laboratory sessions Previously, software used in the CCNA course was not accessible to those with impaired vision because it utilized images of network topology These images were incompatible with screen reader software In contrast, iNetSim is assessable by blind and vision impaired users, in addition to those with normal vision It is based on Mac OS X Tiger, an operating system with an integrated screen reader called VoiceOver

Topics: CCNA (62%), Screen reader (56%), Impaired Vision (55%), OS X (51%)

Summary (2 min read)

1. INTRODUCTION

  • Vision-impaired students taking the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) course have limited access to the traditional learning resources due to the visiocentric nature of the materials.
  • As screen readers do not work with Packet Tracer, only sighted students can use it.
  • To overcome this limitation, the iNetSim application described in this paper was developed to be a “universally accessible” network simulator for use by both sighted and vision-impaired students.

2. DEVELOPMENT ENVIRONMENT

  • This release included VoiceOver [2], a system wide screen reader designed to provide full computer functionality to vision-impaired users.
  • Mac OS X includes the Cocoa API [3] that allows rapid development of complex applications, and Core Data [4], which reduces the time required to implement an application’s document back-end.

3. SPECIFICATION

  • INetSim is intended to replace Packet Tracer, allowing visionimpaired and sighted students to complete CCNA level 2 (Routers and Routing Basics).
  • For CCNA 2, “students will develop skills on how to configure a router, manage Cisco Internetwork Operating System (IOS) Software, configure routing protocol on routers, and set the access lists to control the access to routers.” [5].
  • All user interface and network topology elements are reachable with VoiceOver keys and provide a meaningful response when read by VoiceOver.

3.1 Topology Design

  • The system represents network devices including routers, switches, hubs and PCs.
  • Input of device configuration data is required for simulation.
  • Each device may have several ports of different types including Ethernet, serial and console.
  • The user creates a connection by specifying two ports to connect and a cable type.
  • Removing a connected port disables the connection the same way unplugging a cable would in a real network.

3.2 Network Simulation

  • A command line interface to devices provides control and feedback over the simulation.
  • The interface acts in a similar way to the operating system for that device type (e.g. a generic DOSlike system for PCs and Cisco IOS for routers).
  • A subset of the commands applicable to CCNA 2 allows the user to display and modify device configuration, establish routing protocols and ping, Traceroute or telnet to other devices.
  • INetSim maintains a representation of routing tables to simulate these tasks correctly.

4. USER INTERFACE DESIGN

  • Accessibility for the vision impaired drove the design of iNetSim.
  • Network simulators usually depend on the use of a mouse to add simulated communication links between devices.
  • Tables are Copyright is held by the author/owner(s).
  • As a GUI is also available, sighted iNetSim users can alternatively use a more traditional drag-drop mouse-based interface.

4.1 VERIFICATION

  • The user successful completed the two CCNA 2 laboratories in the test, even though he was unfamiliar with the material in those modules.
  • Tools capable of discovering accessibility problems are available for use by application designers.
  • Involving representative users in field testing, prototyping and evaluation will generally lead to better usability[9].
  • Verification of the final interface using the Accessibility Verifier , revealed few issues.
  • Tests with vision impaired subjects and the results from the available accessibility tools, show that iNetSim is accessible and simple to use, allowing vision-impaired users to complete selected CCNA 2 laboratories.

5. CONCLUSIONS

  • Assistive design choices made in the early stages of development lead to a better quality product.
  • The constraints imposed by the screen reader required a well-designed graphical user interface.
  • Having a representative user assist with prototyping, development and evaluation provided insight into usability issues for the vision-impaired.
  • INetSim is a fully accessible network simulator that allows vision-impaired CCNA 2 students to complete network topology laboratory sessions.

Did you find this useful? Give us your feedback

...read more

Content maybe subject to copyright    Report

A Cisco Education Tool Accessible to the Vision Impaired
J. Hope, B.R. von Konsky, I. Murray, L.C. Chew, B. Farrugia,
Curtin University of Technology
Perth, Western Australia
i.murray@ece.curtin.edu.au
ABSTRACT
This paper describes iNetSim, a universally accessible network
simulator, created to allow vision-impaired and sighted users to
complete Cisco Certified Network Associate level two (CCNA 2)
laboratory sessions. Previously, software used in the CCNA
course was not accessible to those with impaired vision because it
utilized images of network topology. These images were
incompatible with screen reader software. In contrast, iNetSim is
assessable by blind and vision impaired users, in addition to those
with normal vision. It is based on Mac OS X Tiger, an operating
system with an integrated screen reader called VoiceOver.
Categories and Subject Descriptors
H.5.2 [Information Systems]: Interaction styles (e.g., commands,
menus, forms, direct manipulation), Voice I/O
K.4.2 [Social Issues]: Assistive technologies for persons with
disabilities
General Terms
Design, Human Factors.
Keywords
Vision-impaired, Screen readers, Universal Access, User
interfaces, assistive technologies.
1. INTRODUCTION
In 2004, Curtin University commenced a pilot program to teach
vision impaired students industry standard certification courses
[1]. Vision-impaired students taking the Cisco Certified Network
Associate (CCNA) course have limited access to the traditional
learning resources due to the visiocentric nature of the materials.
In particular, Packet Tracer (cisco.netacad.net) is a Macromedia
Flash application that uses images, not text, to display
information. As screen readers do not work with Packet Tracer,
only sighted students can use it. To overcome this limitation, the
iNetSim application described in this paper was developed to be a
“universally accessible” network simulator for use by both
sighted and vision-impaired students.
2. DEVELOPMENT ENVIRONMENT
On April 29, 2005, Apple Computer Inc. released Mac OS X
Tiger version 10.4. This release included VoiceOver [2], a
system wide screen reader designed to provide full computer
functionality to vision-impaired users. Mac OS X includes the
Cocoa API [3] that allows rapid development of complex
applications, and Core
Data [4], which reduces the time required to implement an
application’s document back-end. As a result of these features,
Mac OS X Tiger was chosen as the programming and execution
platform for iNetSim.
3. SPECIFICATION
iNetSim is intended to replace Packet Tracer, allowing vision-
impaired and sighted students to complete CCNA level 2 (Routers
and Routing Basics). For CCNA 2, “students will develop skills
on how to configure a router, manage Cisco Internetwork
Operating System (IOS) Software, configure routing protocol on
routers, and set the access lists to control the access to routers.”
[5]
All user interface and network topology elements are reachable
with VoiceOver keys and provide a meaningful response when
read by VoiceOver.
3.1 Topology Design
The system represents network devices including routers,
switches, hubs and PCs. Input of device configuration data is
required for simulation.
Each device may have several ports of different types including
Ethernet, serial and console. The user creates a connection by
specifying two ports to connect and a cable type. Removing a
connected port disables the connection the same way unplugging
a cable would in a real network.
3.2 Network Simulation
A command line interface to devices provides control and
feedback over the simulation. The interface acts in a similar way
to the operating system for that device type (e.g. a generic DOS-
like system for PCs and Cisco IOS for routers). A subset of the
commands applicable to CCNA 2 allows the user to display and
modify device configuration, establish routing protocols and ping,
Traceroute or telnet to other devices. iNetSim maintains a
representation of routing tables to simulate these tasks correctly.
As an educational tool, iNetSim aims to simulate the results of
these tasks as close to the real systems as possible. Extensibility is
important, as iNetSim will need to adapt to higher CCNA levels
in future.
4. USER INTERFACE DESIGN
Accessibility for the vision impaired drove the design of iNetSim.
Network simulators usually depend on the use of a mouse to add
simulated communication links between devices. To connect two
devices with a communications link, the user must generally click
on icons for the simulated devices. As this may be a problem for
vision-impaired users, iNetSim also incorporates the use of tables
for connecting devices. Tables are used to alter a device’s location
in the topology area, and configure ports and links. Tables are
Copyright is held by the author/owner(s).
ASSETS’06, October 22-25, 2006, Portland, Oregon, USA.
ACM 1-59593-290-9/06/0010.
235

used because navigation can be achieved with VoiceOver shortcut
keys and cursor keys. iNetSim can be used solely with the
keyboard, therefore the eye and hand issues faced by vision-
impaired students can be avoided. As a GUI is also available,
sighted iNetSim users can alternatively use a more traditional
drag-drop mouse-based interface.
Figure 1 shows an example of the user interface in iNetSim. The
text in the floating window in the figure shows the text read by
VoiceOver.
Figure 1: The user interface showing interaction with
VoiceOver
4.1 VERIFICATION
A totally blind user took part in a beta test of iNetSim. The user
successful completed the two CCNA 2 laboratories in the test,
even though he was unfamiliar with the material in those
modules. During a post-test interview, the subject indicated that
he was impressed with iNetSim’s ease of use.
Tools capable of discovering accessibility problems are available
for use by application designers. However, usability issues for
specific disabled users are still difficult to assess because
available tools fail to consider usability criteria to particular
vision-impaired people [6][7]. Each tool has a varying level of
completeness (how many checkpoints from accessibility
guidelines are covered), correctness (how well false positives,
where the issue identified is irrelevant or wrong, are reduced) and
specificity (number of different possible issues detected) [8].
Involving representative users in field testing, prototyping and
evaluation will generally lead to better usability[9].
Verification of the final interface using the Accessibility Verifier ,
revealed few issues. These issues were missing descriptors
(AXDescription), and were trivial to fix.
Tests with vision impaired subjects and the results from the
available accessibility tools, show that iNetSim is accessible and
simple to use, allowing vision-impaired users to complete selected
CCNA 2 laboratories.
5. CONCLUSIONS
Assistive design choices made in the early stages of development
lead to a better quality product. The constraints imposed by the
screen reader required a well-designed graphical user interface.
Having a representative user assist with prototyping, development
and evaluation provided insight into usability issues for the
vision-impaired. iNetSim is a fully accessible network simulator
that allows vision-impaired CCNA 2 students to complete
network topology laboratory sessions.
6. ACKNOWLEGEMENTS
The authors would like to acknowledge the support of the Apple
University Consortium for the provision of several Apple
computers utilized in this project.
7. REFERENCES
[1] Murray I, & Armstrong H, “Teaching Sight Impaired IT
Students”, Proceedings of Educause 2005, Auckland, April
5-8, Paper B5, Retrieved: 15 August, 2006 , from
http://www.educause.auckland.ac.nz/interactive/index.cfm?a
ction=papers
[2] Apple Computer Inc., 2005, Apple – Mac OS X – VoiceOver,
Retrieved: June 1, 2005, from
http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/voiceover/
[3] Apple Computer Inc., 2005, Cocoa, Retrieved: June 1, 2005,
from http://developer.apple.com/cocoa/
[4] Apple Computer Inc., 2005, Developing with Core Data,
Retrieved: November 6, 2005, from
http://developer.apple.com/macosx/coredata.html
[5] Cisco Systems, 2004, CCNA 2: Router and Routing Basics,
Retrieved: April 27, 2005, from http://cisco.netacad.net
[6] Leporini B, Paterno F 2004, ‘Increasing usability when
interacting through screen readers’, Universal Access
Information Society, no. 3, pp. 57-70.
[7] Akoumianakis D, Stephanidis C 1999, ‘Propagating
experience-based accessibility guidelines to user interface
development’, Ergonomics, vol. 42, no. 10, pp. 1283-1310.
[8] Sribunruangrit N, Marque C, Lenay C, Gapenne O 2004,
‘Graphic-User-Interface System for People with Severely
Impaired Vision in Mathematics Class’, Proceedings of the
26
th
Annual International Conference of the IEEE
Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, September 1-
5, pp. 5145-5148.
[9] Balasubramanian V, Venkatasubramanian N 2003, ‘Adapting
a Multimedia Distance Learning Environment for Vision
Impairments’, Proceedings of the International Conference
on Information Technology: Computers and
Communications, pp. 115-119
236
Citations
More filters

Proceedings ArticleDOI
25 Jun 2007
TL;DR: A university research project is undertaken to improve the accessibility of Cisco e-learning materials for vision-impaired computing students and the network architecture which supports the delivery of the Cisco courses to both local and remote vision-IMpaired students is presented.
Abstract: Vision-impaired students face tremendous obstacles in their quest to access learning materials delivered in web-based and other electronic formats. The predominance of visual prompts, use of flash and animation and the inability of screen reading applications to interpret images all contribute to make much of the current e-learning materials associated with computing studies inaccessible by blind or vision-impaired students. This paper describes a university research project undertaken to improve the accessibility of Cisco e-learning materials for vision-impaired computing students.allThe network architecture which supports the delivery of the Cisco courses to both local and remote vision-impaired students is also presented.

19 citations


Cites background from "A cisco education tool accessible t..."

  • ...Removing a connected port disables the connection the same way unplugging a cable would in a real network [ 8 ]....

    [...]


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The development of a fully accessible e-learning environment to deliver advanced IT network curriculum to adults with acute vision disabilities was described, and vision impaired students who excelled in the pilot project were trained as instructors, gaining industry-standard instructor certifications.
Abstract: Lack of accessibility in the design of e-learning courses continues to hinder students with vision impairment. E-learning materials are predominantly vision-centric, incorporating images, animation, and interactive media, and as a result students with acute vision impairment do not have equal opportunity to gain tertiary qualifications or skills relevant to the marketplace and their disability. Due to its logical, rather than physical, nature IT help desk and network administration roles are ideal for people who are blind. This paper describes the development of a fully accessible e-learning environment to deliver advanced IT network curriculum to adults with acute vision disabilities. The components include a virtual classroom, accessible learning materials, a remote computer laboratory, and delivery of the learning materials by vision impaired instructors. Industry standard courses in advanced IT were redeveloped, and the accessible on-line learning environment was developed to deliver the courses. Vision impaired students who excelled in the pilot project were trained as instructors, gaining industry-standard instructor certifications. These instructors were used to assist with the design of accessible methods and delivered the materials to the vision impaired students.

19 citations


Cites background from "A cisco education tool accessible t..."

  • ...Past research has shown that the blind lack intellectual power due to challenges to access and participate in educational institutions ( Hogan-Royle, 2006 ), with the most significant barriers to inclusivity in education being the lack of inclusive mindset, lack of knowledge about pedagogy, high teaching loads, and lack of time for instructional development (Moriarty, 2007)....

    [...]


Proceedings ArticleDOI
20 Apr 2009
TL;DR: The development of an accessible, cost effective, remote laboratory is presented and the modification to laboratory sessions necessary for the blind to undertake CCNA laboratory sessions remotely and with full accessibility is described.
Abstract: The delivery of laboratory exercises to students that are unable to attend in person due to physical disabilities is a significant issue. Both Netlab and Packet Tracer are inaccessible to many students who use assistive technology, particularly those with vision impairment. This paper presents the development of an accessible, cost effective, remote laboratory and describes the modification to laboratory sessions necessary for the blind to undertake CCNA laboratory sessions remotely and with full accessibility. Also discussed is the development of an accessible network simulator, iNetSim, illustrating possible methodologies that may be applied to make existing simulation packages accessible to those with severe vision impairment.

12 citations


Cites background from "A cisco education tool accessible t..."

  • ...iNetSim is a accessible network simulator, created to allow both vision-impaired and sighted users to complete CCNA 2 laboratory sessions without access to the networking hardware [2]....

    [...]


Proceedings ArticleDOI
30 May 2013
TL;DR: The vision for a virtual laboratory which will provide the possibility for the students to access remotely and in real time the available laboratory set of telecommunication devices and its capabilities is presented.
Abstract: With the development of the modern telecommunication systems and networks many new options for providing education services have emerged. A general worldwide trend is the development of distance learning sites and virtual laboratories, which are providing state-of-the-art education in all possible areas and are coexisting with the available on-site and in-person courses and subjects. In the Internet-oriented 21st century many university students have turned to and prefer these electronic and virtual educational resources, not only as additional learning options, but also as primary means for obtaining the latest educational materials by the leading university lecturers worldwide. This process has presented one of the major challenges for the available virtual learning environments - how to make it possible for the students to access, use and work with real equipment. In this paper we present our vision for a virtual laboratory which will provide the possibility for the students to access remotely and in real time the available laboratory set of telecommunication devices. In the Introduction section of the paper we analyze the advantages and disadvantages of the available virtual learning environments. In the next Section we introduce the general conceptual model of the planned laboratory and later we present the actual structure and the organizational requirements for its implementation. The paper continues with a Section, which presents the created virtual laboratory and its capabilities, and is finalized by the Conclusions and References sections.

8 citations


Cites background from "A cisco education tool accessible t..."

  • ...Many of the virtual labs in the engineering education are realized using remote Internet access to the real devices [5, 6]....

    [...]

  • ...Every VL is based on software products, like simulators, emulators, demonstration tools and systems for remote access to real equipment [4, 5]....

    [...]


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: An accessible e-learning environment was designed to deliver advanced IT skills to legally blind students in preparation for employment and to solve challenges faced by several undergraduate students with visual impairments at Curtin University of Technology who were studying Cisco technologies.
Abstract: The employment of visually impaired workers in information technology (IT) support has rarely been considered a viable career choice because computers are vision driven and the person who is visually impaired would have difficulty seeing a computer screen to diagnose and fix any problem. Once computer networks have been installed, little physical work needs to be done; however, continuing logical work in establishing and maintaining connections and access to the data is required. Users on business networks constantly request assistance from computer network professionals via an IT help desk. People who are visually impaired with technological skills are well suited to this helpdesk role. Research undertaken by Curtin University in conjunction with the Association for the Blind in Western Australia has shown that accessible e-learning environments can be developed to assist adults with visual impairments achieve industry-standard qualifications in IT networking. Industry-standard qualifications are certifications offered by industry leaders in their fields, such as Cisco and Microsoft. Cisco training, in particular, provides skills and knowledge for people who are visually impaired to maintain any computer network--the networks in their offices as well as in their homes. This article describes an accessible e-learning environment that was designed to deliver advanced IT skills to legally blind students in preparation for employment. The aim was to convert industry-standard training materials in print into accessible formats and to deliver the learning materials in ways that are more suited to adult students with visual impairments. The components of the learning environment are discussed, together with the successes and problems that were faced, in the hope that others may learn from our experiences. SCOPING THE PROBLEM Adults who are visually impaired continue to face problems in obtaining employment. Although education and training are not the sole answer to the problem, postsecondary education and training have been found to be a significant factor in obtaining employment in numerous studies (Capella-McDonnall, 2005; Kirchner, Schmeidler, & Todorv, 1999; Lee & Park, 2008). Unfortunately, few e-learning training courses are accessible to people who are visually impaired. Although attempts have been made to increase the accessibility of IT training materials, the major providers of such instructional documents, such as Cisco, Microsoft, and Oracle, still fall short in providing fully accessible e-learning curricula for those who are visually impaired. This article describes an accessible e-learning environment that was developed to deliver advanced IT skills to adults with visual impairments in preparation for employment and to solve challenges faced by several undergraduate students with visual impairments at Curtin University of Technology who were studying Cisco technologies. CONVERTING INDUSTRY-STANDARD COURSES The training courses chosen for conversion were the IT networking course offered by Cisco Systems, because Cisco is the leading supplier of computer network equipment to organizations internationally and its routers and switches link the majority of the Internet. Although the Cisco training materials are effective for sighted users, they are not accessible to individuals who are visually impaired. The Cisco curriculum is rich in media, and much of the content is delivered using animation and interactive web pages. It relies heavily on visual keys to illustrate learning objectives, and much of the content cannot be accessed by screen-reading applications. Six Cisco e-learning courses were chosen to provide a relevant skill set for employment in IT. The introductory courses provide the skills to assemble and disassemble physical computers, install and manage operating systems and software applications, and generally troubleshoot computing problems. …

6 citations


References
More filters

01 Jan 2003
Abstract: Twenty years after it was founded, Apple is no longer the major power it once was in personal computing. Apple was the first mainstream vendor of personal computers and is still an important player, setting the pace for ease of use and graphical interfaces, but Apple has become a niche player. The company was born out of the desire of two spirited innovators, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs (Fig. 1), who wanted to bring computing power to ordinary people.

263 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This work proposes a set of criteria targeted to improving the navigability for a specific group of disabled users, i.e., vision-impaired people, and proposes a classification of the criteria according to usability aspects.
Abstract: The application of appropriate Web site design and evaluation methods helps to ensure more usable and accessible Web sites. While in the literature guidelines and evaluation methods for accessibility and usability are given and discussed separately, we aim at identifying the relationships between these two concepts, in particular considering usability criteria for accessible Web sites. In this work, we propose a set of such criteria targeted to improving the navigability for a specific group of disabled users, i.e., vision-impaired people. The identification of the eighteen criteria suggested herein was performed through empirical feedback, by which potential issues were identified. Subsequently, a systematic method was developed on the basis of the analysis of potential solutions, resulting in a classification of the criteria according to usability aspects. Some example applications of the proposed criteria to three existing public administration Web sites are discussed.

78 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This paper presents a methodological approach towards the integration of accessibility guidelines into the user interface development life cycle with the use of a design repository and a supporting tool environment capable of encapsulating, customizing and reusing experience-based accessibility wisdom.
Abstract: This paper presents a methodological approach towards the integration of accessibility guidelines into the user interface development life cycle. The term accessibility guidelines refers to the consolidated design wisdom, as documented in general recommendations, principles of good practice, experience-based heuristics or otherwise ‘blessed’ rules, regarding the construction of interactive computer-based software for people with disabilities. At the core of the proposed method is the use of a design repository and a supporting tool environment capable of encapsulating, customizing and reusing experience-based accessibility wisdom, so as to facilitate the integration of previously generated, tested and agreed, accessibility recommendations into new design cases and user interface implementations. It is argued that the proposed approach eliminates some of the limitations or shortcomings associated with more conventional methods, such as the use of paper-based guidelines, or reviews by experts, while it faci...

22 citations


Proceedings ArticleDOI
01 Jan 2004
TL;DR: The "Braille Box", an assistive device, has been developed by modifying Braille cells to form a tactile stimulator array which is compatible with the fingertip, and shows that it can perform task as determining the slope, the intercept and the coordinates of the intersection of two lines.
Abstract: Computer software is more and more developed based on graphic-user-interface system (GUI) in order to be user-friendly program However, this development creates some difficulties for people with impaired vision to use the computers The "Braille Box", an assistive device, has been developed by modifying Braille cells to form a tactile stimulator array which is compatible with the fingertip This device allows people with impaired vision to access graphic information on computer screen by tactile perception We applied the "Braille Box" in mathematics class focused on linear graph, with visually impaired children The result shows that they can perform task as determining the slope, the intercept and the coordinates of the intersection of two lines

8 citations


01 Jan 2005
Abstract: This paper describes a research project to convert Cisco network administration e- learning education materials to a format that can be accessed and undertaken by sight impaired students. The changing nature of educational materials and the associated problems faced by vision impaired students are discussed. A description of both the high-tech and low-tech solutions applied to this unique teaching environment is presented. Results so far are reported together with a discussion of future plans for the project.

7 citations


Additional excerpts

  • ...A Cisco Education Tool Accessible to the Vision Impaired J. Hope, B.R. von Konsky, I. Murray, L.C. Chew, B. Farrugia, Curtin University of Technology Perth, Western Australia i.murray@ece.curtin.edu.au ABSTRACT This paper describes iNetSim, a universally accessible network simulator, created to…...

    [...]


Frequently Asked Questions (1)
Q1. What are the contributions in "A cisco education tool accessible to the vision impaired" ?

This paper describes iNetSim, a universally accessible network simulator, created to allow vision-impaired and sighted users to complete Cisco Certified Network Associate level two ( CCNA 2 ) laboratory sessions.