Topic outline

  • Moodle Accessibility Guidelines

    HRDNZ statement regarding Moodle and WCAG

    Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 covers a wide range of recommendations for making Web content more accessible.  Following these guidelines makes Web content more usable to users in general.

    http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG/

    Guidelines tend to be desirables rather than absolute and very few (any?) non trivial web applications will conform in every respect to every desirable, Moodle is no exception to this.

    The Moodle developers pay attention to accessibility in that they generally avoid relying on javascript and there is an emphasis on using CSS for layout (for example all standard Themes use CSS for this purpose). Any tool that intends to be taken seriously in education must have an emphasis on accessibility and Moodle does that.

    The development process of Moodle contributed code requires that all output from Moodle must be compliant with XHTML Strict 1.0, and also compliant with all common accessibility guidelines (such as W3C WAG).

    Refer to:
    http://docs.moodle.org/en/Development:Overview

    And the Moodle.org accessibility community forum:
    http://moodle.org/mod/forum/view.php?id=5752

    Moodle has made great strides in achieving accessibility standard.  In pre Modle 2.x versions the HTML editor did badly in accessibility testing, but TinyMCE was much better, and the custom developed Atto Editor for Moodle is highly accessible.  Moodle version 3.0 and higher has definitely improved significantly in this respect.  Removing various formatting options in the editor could make entering text even more compliant, but of course less attractive.

    It's impossible to say that Moodle or any other web app is anywhere near being 'fully accessible' though.  It's not possible for any web application that doesn't have (as its only display option) a completely plain interface using completely standard HTML.

    Accessibility goes beyond technology of course.  It could be argued that you should ensure you use only simple words (for those with cognitive disabilities) and also provide diagram or perhaps video alternatives for pages (for those who have trouble understanding long sections of text).

    Historic

    The accessibility statement from the developer guidelines (http://docs.moodle.org/dev/Accessibility) has applied since a lot of work was done on accessibility for the Moodle 1.8 release.

    Now, any specific failure of Moodle to meet these guidelines should be treated as a bug and filed in the Moodle Tacker (http://tracker.moodle.org/secure/Dashboard.jspa), so it is known about, and can be fixed.

    The approach to accessibility for Moodle development is essentially summed up as "Moodle should work well for the widest possible range of people. "

    A more detailed statement is available in Moodle Accessibility:

    "Websites built with accessibility in mind are flexible in meeting different user needs, preferences and situations. Though these methods can increase usability for everyone who uses the web they are often legally required to be implemented in a specific effort to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities."

    Accessibility regarding Moodle Themes

    http://docs.moodle.org/20/en/Moodle_Accessibility_Specification#Themes_.28.2Fthemes.29

    Our Theme validation process

    We test our Themes using the  W3C Markup Validation Service.

    We also regularly test all Themes during development using the Firefox Web developer plugin (http://docs.moodle.org/dev/Web_developer_extension)

    Additionally we often use the Firebug plugin that integrates with Firefox to use a number of  development tools.

    Browser specific content

    We test our Themes during development with the latest stable releases of:

    • Internet Explorer (Windows)
    • Mozilla Firefox (Windows and Mac OS)
    • Google Chrome (Windows, Mac OS, Linux)
    • Safari (Mac OS and iOS)

    We do not currently test for older versions of browsers (such as Internet Explorer 8 or earlier) unless specifically requested to do so.  This may incur additional time and cost.

    Accessibility for Mobile Moodle Themes is currently an emerging area, with fast-moving and diverse technologies.  Due to the market changes and huge variety of devices we can make no guarantees regarding mobile Moodle accessibility at this time, although we will apply our best-practice processes in so far as we can.

    Further information

    Moodle has done a very great deal of work to meet the national accessibility requirements around the world (including invaluable work completed by the UK Open University).  A good summary of that process is found here:

    http://docs.moodle.org/dev/Accessibility

    The California State University system completed an RFP in which accessibility was a key criterion. Moodle was one of the LMS's checked that met CalState's demanding accessibility requirements:

    www.calstate.edu/acadaff/codedmemos/AA-2008-15.pdf