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Accessibility Statement

Using Moodle

This Virtual Learning Environment is run by the Teaching and Learning team, University Information Services (UIS), University of Cambridge.

We want as many people as possible to be able to use this environment and take part in the activities.  For example, you should be able to:

  • change colours and contrast levels using the accessibility menu
  • access advice on making text larger in your browser from the accessibility menu
  • zoom in up to 300% without the text spilling off the screen
  • navigate most of the Virtual Learning Environment using just a keyboard
  • listen to most of the Virtual Learning Environment using a screen reader
  • navigate most of the Virtual Learning Environment using speech recognition software

AbilityNet has advice on making your device easier to use if you have a disability.

The accessibility of Moodle

We know that some parts of the Virtual Learning Environment are not fully accessible:

  • video content may have poor-quality or missing captions
  • colour contrast in link text is low
  • there are documents (such as PDFs, spreadsheets, Word documents, presentations, etc.) that may not be fully accessible, e.g., to screen reader software or keyboard-only access
  • some courses may be hard to navigate
  • you cannot modify the line height or spacing of text
  • in places, the contrast between colours is not accessible
  • tool tips will not be read out by screen reader software
  • popup content is not read out by screen reader software
  • in some parts of the system, Aria labels and headings are missing

Accessibility of Turnitin:

  • Turnitin feedback studio turns submissions into an image PDF, which are inaccessible to people using screen readers
  • when uploading an assignment in Turnitin, you may not be given an indication of how far along the upload has progressed

What to do if you can’t access parts of this Virtual Learning Environment

If you need course content in an alternative format, such as accessible PDF, large print, easy read, audio recording or braille, you can do one of the following:

  • for Raven users, create an Alternative Format via the University of Cambridge Disability Resource Centre portal to SensusAccess.  It is a free self-service facility to turn inaccessible documents, such as image-only PDF files, JPG pictures and Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, plus other content, into more accessible formats.  This service is open to university members only.
  • for both Raven and Friends access, contact your course organiser or course administrator, or your department or college, and request assistance
  • if you are accessing the system as a Friend’s User (only), and require further assistance, please contact moodlehelp@uis.cam.ac.uk

Reporting accessibility problems with this website

We are always looking to improve the accessibility of this Virtual Learning Environment. For technical or system issues, if you find any problems that are not listed on this page, please email the University Information Service's Teaching and Learning team via moodlehelp@uis.cam.ac.uk.  Please note, if your concern relates to content added to Moodle on a course (documents, images, videos, etc.,) please contact the responsible course organiser, department or college, as outlined above. 

Contacting us

For technical and system issues, accessibility-related queries, or feedback, please email University Information Services Teaching and Learning team via moodlehelp@uis.cam.ac.uk.

For content issues, please contact your course organiser or course administrator, or your department or college, and request assistance.

Further support for disabled students

If you are a disabled student, the Disability Resource Centre (DRC) may also be able to assist you with matters related to accessibility and support in your studies. If you would like to speak to an adviser contact the Disability Resource Centre on 01223 332301 or disability@admin.cam.ac.uk. Further information for disabled students can also be found on the Disability Resource Centre webpage for current students.

Technical information about Moodle’s accessibility

  • The University of Cambridge Teaching and Learning team is committed to making the Moodle Virtual Learning Environment accessible.
  • This website 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.  The WCAG 2.1 success criterion not met by the issue is given in at the end of each line.

  • it is not possible for users to modify text spacing or line height (1.4.12).
  • the text shown in the popup window when the mouse pointer is hovered over the '?' symbol is blurry if the browser screen resolution is greater or smaller than 100%.  In Chrome browser only (1.4.4).
  • there is no text indicating the purpose of the accessibility menu, help, private files, or favourite star icons (1.1.1)
  • the colour contrast of the server name in the footer is too low (1.4.3)
  • help information is presented in tool tips which are not read out by screen reader software (3.3.5)
  • the system uses some popups which are not read out by screen reader software (1.3.1)
  • the system lacks some Aria labels and headings used by screen readers  (2.4.6)
  • some buttons include text without the accessible name (label, alternative text, aria-label, etc.) in the visible text (2.5.3)

We’ve assessed the cost of fixing these issues and believe doing so now would exceed what the University of Cambridge can reasonably bear, when weighed up against the benefit it would bring to people with a disability.  We will make further assessments pending the development of a new Moodle that will host only teaching and learning content. This is scheduled for launch in 2020. 

Issues with PDFs and other documents

Course creators and individuals uploading content to Moodle are responsible for the accessibility of the documents to the widest possible range of users. 

Older PDFs, PowerPoint presentations and Word documents uploaded into the system do not meet accessibility standards - for example, they may not be marked up so they’re accessible to a screen reader, may lack headings, or other navigation aids. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.2.

Documents or PDFs published before 23 September 2018 are especially unlikely to have been fixed for accessibility issues unless they are essential to providing teaching and learning services.  This includes material in the Course History platform.  Course and document creators are encouraged to make use of the university training on creating accessible digital content to help benchmark and improve document quality.

Additionally, we are working on methods to analyse the quality of content, where known and feasible.  We are evaluating commercial mechanisms which will assist content creators in checking accessibility issues.  We anticipate that this evaluation will take place as part of the process of commissioning a new Moodle that will host only teaching and learning content. This is scheduled for launch in 2020.

Issues with images, video and audio

  • there are no alternative formats for time-based media for video and audio content. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.2.1.
  • there are no captions routinely provided for video or audio content. This doesn’t meet WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.2.4.

Issues with interactive tools and transactions

Moodle core code is developed by third party developers, themed with University of Cambridge branding.  The WCAG 2.1 success criterion not met by the issue is given in at the end of each line.

  • colour text in the Atto rich text editor (e.g., the text editor built into Moodle activities) allows selection of colours where the contrast is too low (1.4.3)
  • it is possible to make multiple entries to the forum activity if the 'Post to forum' button is clicked more than once (3.3.4)
  • on the participants page, the filter dropdown disappears when the user scrolls down.  In Internet Explorer only (1.4.10)
  • in the flexible sections course format, expanded sections show as links, but they do not lead anywhere (2.4.4)
  • Turnitin converts submissions into an image PDF (1.4.5)
  • the upload icon for Turnitin submissions is a spinning wheel, rather than a 'percentage complete' indicator (1.3.6)
  • colour contrast is too low for the weekend dates in the calendar block, and for the highlighted topic in the collapsed topics course format (1.4.3)

We’ve assessed the cost of fixing these issues and believe doing so now would exceed what the University of Cambridge can reasonably bear, when weighed up against the benefit it would bring to people with a disability.  We will make further assessments pending the development of a new Moodle that will host only teaching and learning content. This is scheduled for launch in 2020. 

How we tested this website

During the development of the Cambridge Moodle theme in 2018, the Teaching and Learning and User Experience teams at University Information Services conducted user testing.  The work assessed WCAG 2.0 checkpoints for A-AAA standard (approximately 80 points in total), and fixed issues that were found.

The Cambridge Moodle instance was also tested by a number of participants who use Assistive Technologies (voice recognition, screen readers and contrast changes), in collaboration with the University Information Services User Experience team and the University of Cambridge Disability Resource Centre.  In general, all participants found the Moodle interface clear to navigate and a positive experience, with 72% finding the site easy to use.  Of the interface improvement recommendations, all are under review or have been implemented. Repeat testing is scheduled for the summer of 2019.

In August 2019, we are auditing a sample of key Moodle pages using accessibility assessment tools, including WAVE.  We will prioritise pages used by users with different types of system role (e.g., teacher, non-editing teacher, student, etc.)

The instance tested is: https://www.vle.cam.ac.uk/login/index.php (Moodle version 3.5.6).

What we’re doing to improve accessibility

We have identified, scheduled and implemented a series of improvements, for example:

  • to the colour contrast of text, background, and buttons
  • to tool tips
  • with Aria labels for the breadcrumb menu
  • for keyboard navigation
  • for the tab order for the custom menu

We anticipate making these improvements to the Virtual Learning Environment not later than September 2020, when a new instance of Moodle will be launched.

Additionally, we are:

  • evaluating the plugin Blackboard Ally, which enables content creators to assess the accessibility of their content, and provides alternative formats
  • evaluating embedding SensusAccess into Moodle, which can supply alternative formats

Since December 2018, we have already:

  • removed empty spaces
  • implemented the Accessibility menu
  • supplied login instructions on the login page
  • stopped scaling pushing the accessibility menu off the page
  • stop quiz feedback using colour-only to convey information

A log of unresolved issues is maintained and periodically reviewed.

At regular intervals, we monitor improvements to core code, the CSS theme, and third party plugins released by developers and Moodle.org, such as during minor point and major system upgrades.

We are aware that the uploaded content is unlikely to meet WCAG 2.1 AA standards in the majority of cases.  The University of Cambridge is working on methods to analyse and update content where known and feasible.

This statement was prepared on 13 September 2019.