Moodle Tools & Activities

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Summary: Moodle is modular (comprised of activities authored by multiple developers), so not all activities will have the same accessibility. No matter which of these tools you’re using in your course, you should follow the six core skills wherever you write text or add images or video to your Moodle course sites.

 

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This article provides some general guidance on the most commonly used tools in Moodle. If you don’t find the tool here that you’re interested in, please submit a question in the Funnel.

Quiz

As far as screen readers are concerned, quizzes are basically web-based forms comprised of radio buttons, check boxes and text fields. Moodle quiz fields work well with adaptive technologies: students can navigate easily from one question to the next and from answer choice to answer choice. Students can easily review quiz answers before submitting and can answer quiz questions using just a keyboard.

However, the “drag and drop” question types (there are 4 enabled in the U of M Moodle 3.0 release) present an accessibility challenge in that it is not possible to answer those questions with just a keyboard.

When placing a time limit on quizzes, be aware that you may increase test anxiety in students with some non-apparent disabilities.

If you have a student who needs to take your quiz on paper, you can create a paper-based form using Respondus, which is licensed by the U of M.

Labels and pages

As long as you properly format the text, images and video in your labels and pages as outlined in the core skills, there should be no accessibility problems with these two Moodle activities.

Book

Instructors sometimes use the Book tool to create multi-page learning resources and want to enable students to be able to print the resource. Book may cause navigation issues for students with low manual dexterity who try to navigate using  Images navigation style (Appearance > Style of Navigation > Images). The “images” are small, triangle-shaped arrows, and it is not possible to move from page to page using just the keyboard. With the TOC (table of contents) navigation style, sub-chapters are not accurately displayed for students.

Assignment

Students that navigate using only a keyboard are able to easily submit files and text for assignments. Text is easily editable if a mistake is made,  but files are not able to be deleted by keyboard only users. Hopefully, this issue will be addressed in the near future, but for now the issue can be circumvented by allowing multiple file uploads for a submission. By enabling more than one file to be submitted for an assignment, a keyboard only user can upload the correct file without having to delete the previously submitted file. 

Forum and Forum+

There are five different types of forums in both the basic Forum tool and in the beta Forum+ that was introduced in Moodle 2.6.  In general, all forum types are usable, but the “standard forum for general use” format is the most accessible, and is most likely the forum type that your students are most familiar with.  

Lesson

Lesson is used to create interactive learning objects with branching, where students are presented with a learning path based on their answers to questions embedded at various points throughout the lesson. All four question types available to be used within the lesson tool are accessible 

Are you able to navigate a branched lesson successfully using just a keyboard? Possible to go backward and forward?

  • Keyboard only users are able to navigate through, and answer all types of questions within a well constructed branched lesson relatively easily. As a content creator, it is up to you to ensure that your lesson is well created. If created without careful planning, lessons can become maze-like and hard to navigate for all users. 

The progress bar within the lesson tool is compatible with adaptive technologies and can provide useful visual feedback to students to help manage their time and energy as they work through your content.


Third-party tools

Third-party tools that have been added to our U of M Moodle instance, such as Kaltura, VoiceThread, Flipgrid, eMargin and Yellowdig, have not necessarily been vetted for accessibility. 

Overall, the typical barriers apply. Here is what we can find out about the accessibility of these tools.

eMargin

Please explore eMargin to see what it works like with adaptive technologies

eMargin is an online document annotation tool. eMargin is difficult to use for typical keyboard only users, screen reader users, and colorblind users. Text cannot be highlighted using the keyboard, skip links for easy navigation are not provided by the website, and tooltips are not displayed for users that do not use a mouse. Additionally, eMargin uses color as the only indicator that annotations have been added to a document, which is a violation of core skills of color and contrast.

Flipgrid

Flipgrid is a video-based question-response tool developed at the U of M by the Learning Technologies Media Lab and is free to U of M faculty and staff

The most significant issue with Flipgrid is that there is no way to caption responses or provide  transcripts. Flipgrid developers are looking at captioning options, but there is no firm timetable yet for implementation. If you use Flipgrid in your course, it should be offered as one option for response to questions, alongside a text-based version of the question using one the Forum tool.

Kaltura

Kaltura is a video platform that allows users to create, manage, and host videos. Kaltura is dedicated to making their platform accessible to everyone. Kaltura achieves this by including alt text and tooltips for all visual elements on the platform, supporting multi-language closed captioning, maintaining color blind compliance, and thoroughly testing their software with the JAWS screen reader.
    
For more in depth information about the accessibility of Kaltura, please refer to the Kaltura Accessibility data sheet.

VoiceThread

VoiceThread is a multimedia presentation and discussion tool. The vendor believes in universal accessibility, and Voicethread has a number of features to make the tool accessible to users of all abilities, most notably the options for students to provide text-based answers or upload captioned files to voice- or video-recorded responses (though most students will not naturally take this step unless prompted by their instructor).

Closed captioning can be added by uploading a caption file to any audio or video slide or comment. Or, if you have a deaf or hearing impaired student in your class, you may choose to have everyone use text for commenting, if you don't want students to have to create and add caption files to audio or video comments.

Although VoiceThread is Flash-based, its developers have created an alternate HTML based interface, VoiceThread Universal, that is designed to be accessible to screen readers and other devices such as refreshable braille displays. Users that want to use VoiceThread Universal can go to http://voicethread.com/u/.

These features will be most effective only when you help students understand the importance of using them and set expectations for uploading caption files and for adding alt text to images.

Yellowdig

Yellowdig is a networking tool for educational institutions. Yellowdig achieves a high level of accessibility by providing tools to allow screen reader and keyboard only users a way to quickly navigate their website. Most notably, Yellowdig includes a “skip menu” at the top of their home pages that lets users navigate to commonly visited sections of the site. Users are also able to “pin” any page in order to add it to the skip menu.

For more information, refer to the Yellowdig Accessibility page.

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