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Access to PIVoT
PIVoT Accessibility Features

NCAM project staff worked with MIT to develop access solutions for the PIVoT Web site, a comprehensive on-line supplemental learning environment that augments MIT's introductory Newtonian physics class, one of the institute's most challenging freshman course offerings, even for students of MIT caliber. Using a sophisticated Web site and streaming digital video, PIVoT provides a unique 24-hour-a-day opportunity for students to conduct "virtual office hours" with the course's renowned physics professor, Walter Lewin. Students using PIVoT have access to a large amount of material ranging from a complete on-line textbook to a multimedia library containing a year's worth of lectures as well as dozens of tutorials centered around specific problems in the course. Non-MIT users may request a guest account at the PIVoT home page.

Accessibility features available on the site include:

Captioned and described multimedia clips

MIT has chosen the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL) as the format for delivery of multimedia for PIVoT. Over 300 PIVoT multimedia tutorials and lectures now include closed captions for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Nearly 30 tutorials include extended audio descriptions for blind or visually impaired students.

You can view accessible multimedia directly from the PIVoT Web site. To do so, you must first create a user account. Once you receive your account information via return e-mail, create a profile by setting your user preferences to display captions or audio descriptions:

  1. Go into the Preferences area and follow the Video Settings link.
  2. Check either the "closed captions" or "audio descriptions" boxes. (We recommend not using both simultaneously.)
  3. Exit the Preferences area.

Go to the Topics area and choose any topic that contains video clips. From the list, select any clip marked with CC (closed captions) or AD (audio descriptions) to see that movie with the accessibility enhancement you saved in your profile.

PIVoT multimedia clips were captioned and described by MIT students using NCAM's Media Access Generator (MAGpie) software. You can download your own copy of MAGpie free of charge.

Improved Web site layout

The PIVoT Web was enhanced to be easily navigated by students using screen readers or talking Web browsers. Features include:

  • alt text on all graphics and image maps
  • D-links or long descriptions on selected images
  • proper markup on forms and data tables
  • skip links to bypass redundant image maps

Described textbook graphics

The on-line PIVoT textbook contains hundreds of graphics and illustrations. For improved accessibility, we added alt text, D-links and the HTML element <longdesc> to the images in chapters 2 and 17. A D-link-- literally, a "D" hyperlink placed next to a graphic-- leads the user to a text description of the graphic, which can be read by an assistive device such as a screen reader. <longdesc> is meant to replace the D-link, and can be read automatically by certain assistive devices such as the JAWS screen reader and IBM's talking browser, Home Page Reader. We have included both methods in order to support older assistive devices which do not properly interpret <longdesc>.

To view the accessibility enhancements in chapters 2 and 17, log into PIVoT, choose the Textbook link and select one of the two chapters.

Return to the Access to PIVoT home page.

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