Best Practices: Creating Accessible Courses in Moodle™ and Joule

In today’s post, Open LMS Instructional Designer and Trainer Emily Danler highlights course accessibility.

Suppose an eLearning course is clean, visually stimulating, and uses principles of good design. In that case, it 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 valuable content.

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’ll enhance learning for all students.

RELATED READING | ‘How to Meet Modern Online Course Accessibility Needs

Disability Categories Impact Accessibility Planning

It’s important to recognize the following four disability categories when planning to teach in an online environment:

  1. 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.
  2. Visual: Can include blindness and various types of low vision, poor eyesight, and various types of color blindness.
  3. Motor/mobility: Can involve the inability to use a mouse, slow response time, limited fine motor control, and difficulty or inability to use hands.
  4. 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. There are several simple things you can do to make your courses more accessible.

Checklist for Planning Accessible eLearning Courses

Below are 15 recommendations to help you plan accessible digital courses. Please note that this list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good checklist for instructors who are just becoming familiar with the requirements of teaching in a virtual environment. The U.S. Department of Justice also publishes guidelines for accessible online learning.

  1. Use customized font settings, colors, sizes, and spacing to make text easy-to-read (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 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

DOWNLOAD OUR EBOOK TO LEARN MORE | ‘4 Principles for Accessible Design in Digital Learning

Emily Danler was an Instructional Designer and Trainer at Moodlerooms, which evolved to become part of Open LMS.

Open LMS makes it easy to design accessible eLearning with intuitive tools and unparalleled customer support. Contact us to learn more.

Emily Danler

Emily Danler was an Instructional Designer and Trainer at Moodlerooms, which later became part of Open LMS.

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