Sean Cull has kindly left his 8.5 discussion template open for us to play with.
If you’ve got Firefox with the web developer tool bar installed. Switch off css
Notice how the page just collapses into a mess. None of the generally accepted conventions for semantic pages have been obeyed (such as marking up related links as lists).
If the template demonstrated significant usability improvements over the existing template it would almost be acceptable, but the template is very basic. Where’s the different view modes such as viewing discussions as linear threads or the ability to filter discussions to the current conversation (i.e. limiting the view to the direct reply hierarchy). Where’s the facility to view the message you’re writing your reply to? Where’s the lookup when tags are added?
A core template such as this, should be accessible. If I was evaluating this product for use within the University it would not make it past the tender. It would fail on every accessibility point. Sorry, it’s simply that bad.