Accessibility Statement for Moodle

The University of Portsmouth offers its students access to a digital learning environment called Moodle, which is an open source project led and coordinated by Moodle HQ. When we talk about Moodle, however, we broaden the meaning to include:

  • The Moodle platform itself, which you access when going to moodle.port.ac.uk or port.ac.uk/moodle
  • The content on the platform

We want as many people as possible who use Moodle to be able to find, read and understand the content on it. This means, for example, that you should be able to:

  • Change colours, contrast levels and font so that you can read the screen more easily
  • Access most of Moodle using screen readers — Moodle officially supports a number of screen readers
  • Navigate most of Moodle using just the keyboard
  • Navigate most of Moodle using speech recognition software
  • Use the Site Sections dropdown to navigate to sections of your course quickly and easily

We aim to create content to meet the accessibility standards outlined in our technical accessibility statement, and any content we create should be compatible with assistive technology.

If you have a disability, you might wish to contact the Additional Support and Disability Advice Centre — who support students who disclose a disability or require additional support for their academic studies.

email: asdac@port.ac.uk or telephone: 02392 843462

How accessible is Moodle?

There are two aspects to consider when looking at the accessibility of Moodle: the system (in other words, the Moodle platform) and the content on the system.

Moodle HQ aims to make Moodle fully accessible and usable for all users, regardless of ability, and was built in line with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. The platform, however, is a complex and evolving system: over time, new modules are added to the system and others are removed. The worldwide community of Moodle users maintains a list of general Moodle accessibility issues along with the steps being taken to resolve them and the likely timescale for resolution. This list is subject to continuous change and therefore we will regularly review and update this accessibility statement.

The University of Portsmouth aims to ensure that teaching, learning and assessment resources built in or uploaded to Moodle are accessible to all users. The University of Portsmouth Moodle, however, contains hundreds of thousands of pieces of learning content, authored and/or uploaded by thousands of academics and appearing in thousands of modules. It is therefore not possible to guarantee that all pieces of learning content will be fully accessible to all users. In this regard accessibility is not a state, but rather a process of continuous improvement in response to our users and the wider technical environment.

We know that some parts of Moodle are not fully accessible, but we are working hard to improve things. When using Moodle please bear in mind the following points:

  • Some course documents may not be fully accessible, but in most cases alternative formats are available to you via the Ally service
  • Moodle has sufficient contrast between the foreground and background colours, with the following exceptions:
    • Light gray text on some screens has insufficient contrast
    • Checkbox labels on the updates screen have insufficient contrast
  • Some of our online forms may be difficult to navigate using a keyboard
  • Subjects that make heavy use of mathematical or chemical notation have technical constraints surrounding accessibility
  • The Moodle native application does not currently reflect font size changes in iOS
  • Text is resizable to 300% throughout Moodle without loss of content, as specified in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, but at high magnifications some minor overlapping may occur

What to do if you are having difficulties accessing content on Moodle

We have enabled a service called Ally that provides alternative format downloads for most items of course content. Most documents should be available in a format that is most accessible for you — tagged PDFs, ePub, audio recording or electronic braille. Alternative formats are not available for documents originating in the Faculty of Technology because of the heavy use of mathematical notation in technically based courses.

If you have difficulties accessing content then please get in touch either by:

email: elearn@port.ac.uk or telephone: 02392 843355

Reporting accessibility problems with Moodle

We are always looking to improve the accessibility of Moodle. If you have problems accessing different formats, if you find any accessibility problems that are not already listed on this page, or if you believe we are not meeting the requirements of the accessibility regulations, then please get in touch either by:

email: elearn@port.ac.uk or telephone: 02392 843355

We will consider your message and get back to you within two working days.

Enforcement / escalation procedure

If you need to escalate your issue further, the University has an established complaints procedure.

The Equality and Human Rights Commision (EHRC) is responsible for enforcing the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 (the ‘accessibility regulations’). If you are not happy with how we respond to your complaint, contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).

Technical information about Moodle’s accessibility

The University of Portsmouth is committed to making Moodle accessible, in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

Moodle is partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 AA standard, due to the non-compliances listed below.

Non-accessible content

The content listed below is non-accessible for the following reasons:

Non-compliance with the accessibility regulations

WCAG 2.1 success criterion Conformance level Remarks
1.1.1 (non-text content) Supports with exceptions Some images lack a text alternative, so the information in them is not available to people using a screen reader. We plan to add text alternatives for all images by September 2020. When we publish new content we will try to make sure our use of images meets accessibility standards.
1.4.3 (contrast (minimum)) Supports with exceptions We cannot guarantee that text and images of text have a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1, or that large-scale text and images have a contrast ratio of at least 3:1. When we publish new content we will try to make sure we meet accessibility standards. We aim to correct cases of insufficient contrast as soon as they are brought to our attention.
1.4.5 (images of text) Supports with exceptions We cannot guarantee that images of text have not been used. When we identify instances where images of text have been used then, unless a particular presentation is essential to the information being conveyed, we will attempt to replace the image with text that can be visually customised to the user’s requirements. When we publish new content we will try to make sure we meet accessibility standards.
1.4.9 (images of text (no exception)) Supports with exceptions Some links are provided as images that include text; this text is therefore not available to those using assistive technologies. We plan to replace all such examples with HTML text by September 2020. When we publish new content we will try to ensure that text is not included inside images to meet accessibility standards.
1.4.10 (reflow) Supports with exceptions In some situations we cannot guarantee that content can be presented vertically and horizontally without needing to scroll. In the academic year 2019–20 we will develop a plan to ensure as much content as possible is readable in as many different screen sizes as possible.
2.4.4 (link purpose (in context)) Supports with exceptions The purpose of certain link text (for example, ‘click here’) makes little sense when read on its own. We plan to fix the existing links by September 2020. When we publish new content we will try to ensure that link text meets accessibility standards.
2.4.6 (headings and labels) Supports with exceptions We cannot guarantee that all headings and labels describe topic or purpose. Throughout 2019­–20 we intend to offer staff development sessions in which the importance of describing topic or purpose is made clear. When we publish new content we will try to ensure that headings and labels meet accessibility standards.
2.4.7 (focus visible) Supports with exceptions We cannot guarantee that the keyboard focus indicator is always visible. We will endeavour to ensure that the focus indicator is visible when adding or amending new features to Moodle. We will rectify any instance of the indicator being hidden when it is brought to our attention.
2.4.10 (section headings) Supports with exceptions Some content is not sufficiently divided into sections with headings; this creates problems for users of assistive technologies when determining the topic of said content. We plan to ensure all sections have accessible headings by September 2020. When we publish new content we will try to ensure that section headings meet accessibility standards.

Disproportionate burden

  1. Some recorded videos lack captions. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.2.2 (captions (prerecorded)).
  2. Moodle includes links to third-party content and functionality. Depending on our relationship with the third party, we cannot always guarantee that their content or platform is fully accessible.
  3. Some third-party content is embedded within Moodle via the use of iframes or similar methods. In these cases, what is presented on screen is sometimes not what is presented in the html output that accessibility software sees. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.3.1 (info and relationships).
  4. Content on Moodle is created by many different authors and so we cannot guarantee that navigational mechanisms (how you move around Moodle) is consistent; this does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 3.2.3 (consistent navigation). For the same reason we cannot guarantee that all components with the same functionality will be labelled consistently; this does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 3.2.4 (consistent identification). Similarly we cannot guarantee that suggestions are provided to users when an input error is detected; this does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 3.3.3 (error suggestion). Furthermore, we cannot guarantee that all status messages, such as error messages, can be read by assistive technologies such as screen readers; this does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.3 (status messages).

We have assessed the cost of fixing the issues surrounding captioning and third-party content and platforms and we believe that doing so now would be a disproportionate burden within the meaning of the accessibility regulations. We will however: (i) work to add captions to recorded video, with machine-generated captions as a minimum and human-generated captions in some cases; and (ii) work with our suppliers to review all linked tools by September 2020 and phase out use where those tools are inaccessible. When a third-party supplier contract is up for renewal, we will make an assessment of accessibility at that point.

One of the key benefits of Moodle is the scope it offers teachers to develop creative and innovative learning objects. This approach inevitably introduces the possibility of inconsistent navigation and identification. We believe that making all learning content on Moodle consistent would be a disproportionate burden within the meaning of the accessibility regulations. Where a student notifies us of a difficulty with content, however, we will work to offer a solution for them.

Content that is not within the scope of the accessibility regulations

  1. Some of our older PDFs and Word documents do not meet accessibility standards – for example, they may not be structured to be accessible to a screen reader. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.2 (name, role value). Some of our PDFs and Word documents are essential to providing our services – for example, we have PDFs with information on how users can access our services, and forms published as Word documents. By September 2020, we plan to either fix these or replace them with accessible HTML pages. The accessibility regulations do not require us to fix PDFs or other documents published before 23 September 2018 if they are not essential to providing our services. Note, however, that the Ally service should allow you to access all tutor-uploaded PDFs and Word documents in a format that is accessible. Any new PDFs or Word documents will meet accessibility standards.
  2. Live video streams lack captions. This does not meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.2.4 (captions - live). There is no requirement to caption live video streams.

If we have failed to identify an issue, please contact elearn@port.ac.uk or phone 02392 843355

How we tested Moodle

Moodle has been tested for accessibility issues by the Moodle HQ development team using Google Chrome Development Tools accessibility audit functionality and the WebAIM Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool. These approaches check for specific accessibility issues and highlight failing elements, which are then addressed by the development team.

The Moodle HQ development team also work with the wider Moodle Accessibility Collaboration Group. The Group represents different organisations using Moodle, who relay specific issues with Moodle that students and staff are facing.

The University of Portsmouth provides a visual layer called a theme to our particular instance of Moodle. The theme provides corporate styles and additional usability functionality. As we have included extra code in addition to the Moodle core code, we also periodically run Google Chrome Development Tool accessibility audits to address any issues that we might have introduced. We also conduct usability testing on a subset of learning material on Moodle to ensure we capture any issues, such as page tab orders and screen reader navigation, that software alone might not pick up.

The Moodle HQ website gives more information about Moodle accessibility standards and testing.

What we are doing to improve accessibility

  • Our Additional Support and Disability Advice Centre (ASDAC) provides specialist guidance and help.
  • We are actively networking with and taking advice from relevant external organisations, such as JISC.
  • Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs) are required for new policies and services and ensure a focus on the range of people expected to access that material.
  • We have purchased Ally for Moodle, and thus provided alternative formats to students and structured advice to staff on improving the accessibility of learning resources.
  • We are active members of the European Ally User Group, in which discussions take place about digital accessibility.
  • We have developed training (online and face-to-face) for all staff to ensure they are aware of the requirements and have the skills needed to update materials.
  • We provide the third-party Moodle accessibility block and accessibility AtBar allowing users to tailor the style of Moodle to suit their needs, including font size, colour contrasts and text to speech options (in addition to browser based customisations).
  • We are actively seeking input from students, through the mechanisms outlined above.

This statement was prepared on 23 August 2019. It was last updated on 24th October 2019.

Last modified: Thursday, 24 October 2019, 4:11 PM