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Improving the Accessibility of.. MoodleMoot 2006


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"Improving the Accessibility of Moodle: Experiences, guidelines and the road ahead."

* Dr Nick Freear
* Dr Chetz Colwell
* 25-26 July 2006, MoodleMoot.

(An old presentation I've just re-discovered!)

Published in: Education, Technology, Design
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Improving the Accessibility of.. MoodleMoot 2006

  1. 1. Improving the Accessibility of Moodle Experiences, guidelines and the road ahead. 25-26 July 2006, Dr Nick Freear Dr Chetz Colwell
  2. 2. Who we are • Dr Nick Freear, Technical Developer, Learning & Teaching Solutions, Virtual Learning Environment Programme • Dr Chetz Colwell, Project Officer, Accessibility in Educational Media team, Institute of Educational Technology
  3. 3. Context for Accessibility work at the Open University • • • • • One of largest universities in Europe ~ 200,000 students, approx 5% declare disabilities Mission: “Open to all” Long history of supporting disabled students Adopted Moodle as VLE October 2005 – Accessibility is a priority, particularly as VLE used in distance context
  4. 4. Legislation/Policy context • In the UK the Disability Discrimination Act (Part 4) applies to education. • WAI information on international policies/legislation relating to Web Accessibility:
  5. 5. Accessibility Guidelines • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG) • World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Recommendation 5 May 1999 • 14 guidelines • 65 checkpoints • 3 priority levels – P1 must, P2 should, P3 may • WCAG 2.0: final stages of development • Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines
  6. 6. WCAG guidelines relevant to Moodle 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. Provide equivalent alternatives to auditory and visual content. Don't rely on color alone. Use markup and style sheets and do so properly. Clarify natural language usage Create tables that transform gracefully. Ensure that pages featuring new technologies transform gracefully. Ensure user control of time-sensitive content changes. Ensure direct accessibility of embedded user interfaces. Design for device-independence. Use interim solutions. Use W3C technologies and guidelines. Provide context and orientation information. Provide clear navigation mechanisms. Ensure that documents are clear and simple.
  7. 7. Disability and assistive technology [1] • Dyslexic students: – Tools to support reading and writing, e.g. ‘Read&Write’ – Voice recognition, e.g. Dragon, ViaVoice – Browser and/or Windows settings for colour and/or font • Students with physical impairments: – Different keyboards and mice – On-screen keyboards – Switch equipment
  8. 8. Disability and assistive technology [2] • Blind students: – Screenreaders, e.g. Jaws, WindowEyes, Hal – Braille displays – Notetakers • Partially sighted students: – Screen magnifiers, e.g. ZoomText, SuperNova – Browser and/or Windows settings for colour and/or font • Students with multiple disabilities might use combinations of the above
  9. 9. Evaluation & development process 2006 • • • • • • • • Moodle 1.5 demonstration site. Feb: Chetz conducted expert evaluation of parts of Moodle, with assistive technologies. Prioritised report. Proposal on Moodle Forum, including “General Approach”. Discussion (d=40484). [Later step: specific bugs added to Moodle bug tracker, “Accessibility” component.] Nick fixed issues on Moodle HEAD (1.6 development) in CVS (Sourceforge). Merge from Sourceforge to OU’s Moodle CVS. May: OU Moodle site went live: 37 courses June: Moodle 1.6 released with some accessibility improvements
  10. 10. Evaluation & development process 2, 2006 • • • • • • June: OU / Moodle decision to improve accessibility across all of Moodle, and to pay consultants Therefore a specification needed Systematic expert evaluation of all available modules and blocks that produce output Findings of evaluation fed into spec. – Spec assumes no knowledge of accessibility – includes primer and principles – There are some gaps, e.g. SCORM, LAMS, blogs, wikis – need examples of content to evaluate End June: Specification made available to community for comment July: filling gaps
  11. 11. Initial issues 3 - example, a ‘side-block’ 1,2 5 4 1. Show/hide block (+-) icon link – missing ALT text (P1) and TITLE. 2. Navigation – show/hide block doesn’t work for JAWS. 3. Headings, “Main Menu” – not marked up as <H2> (P2). 4. List of links – should not be a nested <table class=‘list’> (P2,P3). 5. Icons for links – should have empty ALT text. Firefox screen-shot. Web Developer toolbar used to highlight table cells.
  12. 12. Initial solution side-block after improvements (Moodle 1.6) 1. Show/hide block (+-) icon link (P1). 2. Navigation – ‘Skip block N’ link (m 1.7 improves). 3. Headings, “Main Menu” (P2) 4. List of links (P2,P3). 5. Icons for links – empty ALT text (controversial). Firefox screen-shot. Web Developer toolbar used to highlight table cells, headings, list items.
  13. 13. Current issues - with WCAG Priorities • Icons/buttons: some ALT text missing or not meaningful (P1) • Colours: lack of non-visual equivalent (P1) • Editor: not keyboard or screenreader accessible (P1) • Headings: not marked up with heading tag <Hx> and some content with no headings (P2) • Links: some link text not meaningful (P2)
  14. 14. Current issues (2) - with WCAG Priorities • Layout: nested tables used instead of CSS (P2, P3) • Absolute sizes: that prevent some content wrapping in different window sizes (P2) • Navigation: no support for skipping to main content of page (P3 – but should be higher) • Forms: some aspects not marked up correctly (P2 – but should be higher).
  15. 15. Use of colour alone without alternative (P1)
  16. 16. Lack of headings (P2)
  17. 17. Meaningful Alt text (P1)
  18. 18. Need for table header mark-up (P1)
  19. 19. Challenges • Moodle has lots of extensions (modules, blocks etc) and most of these output content directly • Need a systematic, iterative approach to accessibility • Ownership: community still needs to do more – adoption, maintenance, testing and so on.
  20. 20. Next steps • Accessibility in the Moodle 1.7/2.0 Roadmap (Moodle Docs) • Implementation of specification • Usability and accessibility user testing, at the OU early 2007 – involving students from a range of courses. It is an ongoing process…
  21. 21. Demonstrations of tools • • • • JAWS 6.0 screenreader ZoomText magnifier Fangs Firefox extension Firefox web developer toolbar Objectives of demonstrations: • Demonstrate Moodle as seen through assistive technology • Illustrate problems faced by visually impaired students. • Demonstrate developer tools.
  22. 22. Tools and Links • W3C Web Accessibility Initiative, • WCAG 1.0, • JAWS screen reader, • ZoomText, • For Internet Explorer, AIS Web Accessibility Toolbar, • For Mozilla Firefox – Fangs - screen reader emulator,, 1.0.0. – Web Developer plugin, 1.0.2 – Live HTTP Headers plugin, 0.11.
  23. 23. Moodle Links Moodle Docs wiki, • • Accessibility forum, f=820 Moodle Accessibility Specification forum discussion, Accessibility statement, file=accessibility.html
  24. 24. Contacts • Dr Nick Freear, Technical Developer, Learning & Teaching Solutions, • Dr Chetz Colwell, Project Officer (AEM), Institute of Educational Technology,