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Best Practices: Creating Accessible Courses in Moodle and Joule

Today, we're continuing the blog series, "Best Practices." Written by Moodlerooms' very own Learning Solutions team, the Best Practices series is a bi-weekly feature highlighting best practices for Moodle use inside and outside of the traditional classroom.

In today's post, Moodlerooms Instructional Designer and Trainer, Emily Danler, highlights course accessibility.

Thanks for reading,
- Brad


If an E-learning course is clean, visually stimulating, and uses principles of good design, this signals that the instructor cares, not only about the content of the course, but more importantly, about the students enrolled. Poor course design reflects on the instructor, and may even belittle what is otherwise valuable content and instruction.

Accessible courses will be built with flexibility as a primary concern. Instructors who care about meeting accessibility requirements will adapt their teaching to accommodate student needs. One of the major benefits of designing with these requirements in mind is that you will enhance learning for all students.

The primary categories of disability to recognize when planning to teach in an online environment include:

  • Cognitive/Intellectual: Developmental, learning and cognitive disabilities with issues that could involve the inability to remember or focus on large amounts of information, challenge with problem-solving skills, or attention span difficulty.
  • Visual: Can include blindness, and various types of low vision, poor eyesight, and various types of color blindness.
  • Motor/Mobility: Can involve the inability to use a mouse, slow response time, limited fine motor control, difficulty or inability to use the hands at all.
  • Auditory: Involves deafness and hearing impairments.

Fortunately, there are many assistive technologies available like screen readers, alternative keyboards, scanning software and more that can assist these learners. In addition, there are several simple things you can do to make your courses more accessible.

A list of 15 recommendations is provided for you below. Please note that this list is by no means exhaustive, but is a good checklist for instructors who are just becoming familiar with the requirements of teaching in a virtual environment.

  1. Use customized font settings, colors, sizes and spacing for legible, easy-to-read text (e.g., do not use red and green together).
  2. Make sure all images have the alternative text fields completed.
  3. Use close captioned versions of video content and/or provide transcripts.
  4. Use high-quality audio that eliminates distracting background noise.
  5. Structure your content clearly with consistent labeling.
  6. Use predictable navigation throughout the course.
  7. Ensure all links within the course are meaningful both in and out of context.
  8. Avoid flickering, blinking or distracting content.
  9. Provide sufficient time limits to complete tasks, and grant extensions for those with special needs.
  10. Provide extra support for elderly students who may be unfamiliar with certain technologies.
  11. Avoid redundancy with written text, and use simple presentation and language.
  12. Use supportive visuals to help explain principles.
  13. Use the force download setting for documents housed in the course.
  14. Open links external to the course in a new window, and those internal to the course in the same window.
  15. When possible, use interactives and tutorials to demonstrate skill acquisition for students.

To learn more, please visit the page for Moodlerooms' accessibility services.

The U.S. Department of Justice American Disabilities Association also publishes guidelines for accessible online learning.

- Emily

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