Although I know you’re supposed to design web sites for accessibility, somehow, I hadn’t thought through the issues with accessibility for Moodle. What happens when one of the students–who may be blind–wants to take an online class?

Pretty scary. So, i was grateful to get this article from Diana Benner pointing to an article about testing Moodle for accessibility. Well worth it to read the summary, and then discuss accessibility issues.

    • Testing Moodle for Accessibility

      • Everyone I encountered and tested said clearly that Moodle was the best Learning Management System they’d used. There are many points in its favor.

        • Moodle is pedagogically sound, designed by people with a passion for education.
        • Moodle is a long-standing and mature product, built by and for its users.
        • Moodle is open source.
        • Moodle is almost pure HTML, relying on standard links and form controls.
        • Moodle avoids common barriers to accessibility like Flash, Java, and image maps.
        • Moodle is relatively well-structured semantically.

        The vast majority of Moodle is technically accessible: blind and vision-impaired users can accomplish nearly all the tasks set before them. However, much work remains to prevent Moodle from being a frustrating experience for these users.

    • Brian Charlson at the Carroll Center for the Blind is fond of saying that sighted users go from the macro to the micro. That is, we scan pages rapidly, building an increasingly accurate mental model as we narrow in on the details. Blind users go from the micro to the macro. They experience only the details, and have to infer relationships between them in order to build a larger picture.

    • Blind users incur a higher cost for failure. It can take a blind user very long to realize that they have performed an incorrect action.

      Working with data tables requires a lot of memorization, even if the tables are well-constructed. Blind users must typically memorize all the headings so they don’t lose their place in the data rows.

    • Blind users set their screen readers to speak very, very fast; much faster than I can comprehend and use.

    • The blind experience on the web is that of swimming in a sea of tiny details, most of which are not relevant to the task at hand. Maddeningly, each of these details must be experienced in full and judgment passed on them not just once, but on every page. The result is that blind users are very quick to skip past any content which appears not to satisfy their immediate goals. This is one reason that good headings are so important.

    • By far the most common complaint of all users tested was, “there’s just too much stuff.” It’s very easy for a sighted user to ignore repeated content, secondary content, and images. Users of assistive technology often do not have this luxury. When making changes to Moodle or adding new features, the most important consideration for accessibility should be to ensure that every readable element on the page is important for all users. If elements are judged not to be important they should be removed, not hidden or placed elsewhere in the layout.

    • This is what screen reader users hear when reading past the help icon when posting a new discussion topic: “Read carefully, Write carefully, Ask good questions, How to write text and Use emoticons.”

    • The Moodle WYSIWYG presents blind users with a large table of unlabeled and inaccessible (e.g., no “alt” attributes) images and form controls. The best case for a blind user is some wasted time figuring out they’re in a WYSIWYG editor and then exiting it.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.