Addressing ten Moodle accessibility concerns for UCL’s disabled users
By Jessica Gramp, on 17 May 2017
UCL staff from Digital Education Advisory and UCL’s Disability Services teams are currently looking at how to improve the accessibility of UCL Moodle for those with disabilities, which will benefit all users. Information from two focus groups, one with students and one with staff, have highlighted a number of concerns, which the Accessible Moodle project aims to address.
The focus groups identified ten areas of concern (listed in order of priority):
- Clutter – it is difficult to find what you are looking for amongst irrelevant links and content.
- Emphasis – understanding what is the most important information is not easy.
- Layout – page elements are not configurable, there is too much visible at once and the blocks are too wide.
- Navigation and Orientation – pages are long and disorganised, with links to external services not adequately signposted.
- Usability – some interfaces, especially for assessments, are particularly difficult to use.
- Awareness – useful features (skip links) and services (Moodle snapshot) remain unknown to those who would benefit from them.
- Personalisation – there’s a lack of configurable page elements (blocks, fonts, font sizes and colours) or information about how to do this independently with browser plugins and other assistive technologies.
- Text – there’s a lot of overly long text that is too small, in a difficult to read font with poor contrast and in difficult formats both in Moodle and the resources it contains.
- Consistency – there’s inconsistencies between some Moodle courses and conversely some courses not being adequately distinguishable from others.
- Graphics – there’s heavy reliance of written information that could be expressed more simply with icons and images, with appropriate alternative text for those using screen readers.
The learning curve of using new interfaces, problems with assessment, and clunky mobile access were also mentioned by the focus group participants.
These issues will be addressed by a number of initiatives:
- A new, more accessible UCL Moodle theme for use on desktop and mobile devices.
- Changes to Moodle configuration.
- Enhanced Moodle features.
- Improved training, staff development and support.
- Proposals to Moodle HQ and iParadigms (who provide Turnitin) to improve interfaces.
Further updates on this project will follow on the Digital Education blog.