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Making moodle more accessible for staff and students UCL disability conference 2018-v3

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Moodle is not completely accessible, since it does not fully meet the Wide Web Consortium (W3C) WCAG 2.0 level AA web standard. Even if it were technically accessible, this would not guarantee an accessible experience to all disabled students and staff (W3C 2016b; Cooper et al 2007).

“When websites… are badly designed, they can create barriers that exclude people from using the Web.” (W3C 2016a).

At UCL, we formed an interdisciplinary team of Digital Education and Disability Support staff and conducted focus groups with disabled students and staff to discover difficulties they had using UCL Moodle and generated priority areas for improvements. The focus groups considered both improvements to Moodle and its interface and support for both disabled users and Moodle course editors.

Accessibility consultants, a developer and a designer were recruited to improve Moodle Accessibility from a variety of angles, by implementing:

A new, more accessible UCL Moodle visual design (theme) for use on desktop and mobile devices.
Enhanced UCL Moodle features (plugins) and configuration.
Improved training, staff development and support for disabled staff and students, as well as course editors.
Improvements to code within Moodle and theme.

The first two elements are discussed further in this poster from the First UCL Interdisciplinary Conference on Disability, 2018. See the conference programme at: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/grand-challenges/justice-and-equality/priorities/disability/conference-programme

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Making moodle more accessible for staff and students UCL disability conference 2018-v3

  1. 1. Accessible Moodle project Moodle is not completely accessible since it does not fully meet the Wide Web Consortium (W3C) WCAG 2.0 level AA web standard. Even if it were technically accessible, this would not guarantee an accessible experience to all disabled students and staff (W3C 2016b; Cooper et al 2007). “When websites… are badly designed, they can create barriers that exclude people from using the Web.” (W3C 2016a). We formed an interdisciplinary team of Digital Education and Disability Support staff and conducted focus groups with disabled students and staff to discover difficulties they had using UCL Moodle and generated priority areas for improvements. The focus groups considered both improvements to Moodle and its interface and support for both disabled users and Moodle course editors. Accessibility consultants, a developer and a designer were recruited to improve Moodle Accessibility from a variety of angles, by implementing:  A new, more accessible UCL Moodle visual design (theme) for use on desktop and mobile devices.  Enhanced UCL Moodle features (plugins) and configuration.  Improved training, staff development and support for disabled staff and students, as well as course editors.  Improvements to code within Moodle and theme. The first two elements are discussed further (to the right). Accessible Moodle project findings The top 10 priority areas identified by the focus group participants were (Gramp 2017b): 1. Clutter 2. Emphasis 3. Layout 4. Navigation and Orientation 5. Usability (Learnability) 6. Awareness 7. Personalisation 8. Text 9. Consistency 10. Graphics Conclusions  Most content can be created in a way that caters for different types of disabilities (OU 2006).  Technical solutions exist to modify content to suit individuals.  Resolving accessibility issues makes Moodle more usable for everyone (OU 2006). Acknowledgments Accessible Moodle project team members also included: Michele Farmer Disability IT Support Analyst UCL Information Services Division (ISD) Michele Farmer Angel Perez Disability Adviser UCL Student Disability Services Mira Vogel Digital Education Advisor UCL Information Services Division Accessible Moodle Theme Moodle themes depict the fonts, colours, icon set and layout of the pages. The theme is a skin that sits on top of Moodle structures to visually present the information. We adapted an existing Moodle theme that responded to the priorities. We circulated the theme widely across UCL and made modifications from feedback received, with preference given to improvements that helped disabled staff and students above others. However, the changes were widely acknowledged as benefiting everyone. Key theme features (mapped to priority areas): • Alerts (closed by individuals) 2, 7. • Simplified menus 1, 3, 4. • Scrolling announcements (pausable) 5. • Larger text 8. • Icons (alongside text) 10. • Grey background (helps Dyslexia) 8. • Accessibility statement / help 6, 7. • Visible tabbing through elements 2, 4, 6. • Dockable blocks 1, 3, 4. • Hide / show blocks 1, 2, 3. • Full screen toggle 3. • Customised help depending on role 1, 7. • Wider spacing between elements 3, 8. • Simplified design 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. • More & larger icons 10. • ‘This course’ menu links to people, grades, activities 1, 2, 4, 5, 6. • Blue theme selected (more accessible for visual impairments) 5, 8. Moodle plugins Several Moodle plugins can enhance the accessibility and usability of the Moodle interface including (Gramp 2017a):  user tours, to provide guidance to Moodle users as and when they need it.  global search, to enable resources to be located more easily.  course checks and Blackboard Ally, to help course editors create accessible learning spaces.  icons that can be added by course editors, to help those who benefit from images alongside text.  flags against new items on the course homepage, to help users understand what new content they should focus on.  import from Word to the text editor, to help blind users who author content using Microsoft Word, which is an accessible interface many know and find easy to use. Jessica Gramp Digital Education Advisory j.gramp@ucl.ac.uk Literature cited Cooper, M., Colwell, C. & Jelfs, A. (2007) Embedding accessibility and usability: considerations for e-learning research and development projects. ALT-J. [Online] 15 (3), 231–245. Available from: doi:10.1080/09687760701673659 [Accessed: 6 May 2017]. Gramp, J. (2017a) Accessible Moodle wishlist. [Online]. 20 June 2017. Available from: http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/digital- education/2017/06/20/accessible-moodle-wishlist/ [Accessed: 20 June 2017]. Gramp, J. (2017b) Addressing ten Moodle accessibility concerns for UCL’s disabled users. [Online]. 17 May 2017. Available from: http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/digital-education/2017/05/17/addressing-ten-moodle-accessibility-concerns/ [Accessed: 17 June 2017]. OU (2006) Accessibility of E-Learning. [Online]. Available from: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/education/professional-development- education/accessibility-elearning/content-section-0 [Accessed: 13 June 2017]. W3C (2016a) Accessibility. Shawn Lawton Henry & Liam McGee (eds.). [Online]. Available from: https://www.w3.org/standards/webdesign/accessibility [Accessed: 5 May 2017]. W3C (2016b) Accessibility, Usability, and Inclusion: Related Aspects of a Web for All. [Online]. Available from: https://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/usable [Accessed: 9 May 2017]. You can read more about the Accessible Moodle project on the UCL Digital Education blog: http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/digital-education/category/accessibility/accessible-moodle-project

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