Digital Accessibility in Moodle

Digital accessibility is an essential component for an inclusive approach to teaching online. Our learning material must be digitally accessible so that it can be used by everyone, especially disabled and neurodiverse students, approximately 25% of UAL students.

Using Ally to improve accessibility

Ally was added to Moodle in May 2021 to improve document accessibility:

  1. Uploaded documents can be accessed in alternative formats, such as HTML, PDFs, MP3s, or electronic braille
  2. Staff have information about the accessibility of uploaded files and built-in guidance to improve them
  3. Ally produces reports on broader patterns of digital accessibility across Moodle

Read more and watch a video about Using Blackboard Ally on Moodle to improve document accessibility (Canvas login required).

Take two actions to improve accessibility

  1. Use Ally to check the accessibility of the content of your Moodle site. See Ally arrives: what you need to do
  2. Ensure new documents you create are accessible. See UAL’s Creating accessible documents (Canvas login required).

Ally Reports

Staff can view an overall report for their Moodle sites by selecting the ‘Accessibility Report’ in the Navigation Drawer (the blue slide-out menu on the left). This report will invite you to start applying fixes. Only five-to-ten minutes of amendments can dramatically improve the overall Ally score for your Moodle site.

Screengrab  of the Ally Course report
The Ally Course Report shows a tally of the different content types,
and prompts to fix outstanding accessibility issues.

Further resources for Ally

Accessibility and PDFs

The most prevalent type of file uploaded to Moodle is the PDF. In 2020-21, over ten thousand PDFs were published on LCC Moodle sites.

PDFs are not intrinsically inaccessible. PDFs, like Word documents, support the use of ‘alternative text’ entries for images; and just as Word uses ‘heading styles’ to indicate the relative status of text, PDFs have equivalent ‘tags’.

Unfortunately, PDF-creation software does not always make it easy to insert these features, or to rectify their absence.

Making accessible PDFs

First, be sure you need a PDF. If not, consider replacing it with a Moodle resource, such as a Page. See number 2 in our Moodle Top Ten.

If your PDFs are exported from PowerPoint, or created in Adobe software such as Illustrator or InDesign, additional steps are needed to improve the accessibility of the files.

The most effective tool for resolving issues in PDF files is Adobe Acrobat; however, you must use Adobe Acrobat Pro DC – which has file editing capability – rather than the similar but limited Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is only for displaying files and does not have editing features.

If you use Word to export a document as a PDF, the accessibility data from the Word document is typically preserved (subject to the different options for Windows and Mac). If your PDFs are created by exploiting the Library’s Scans for Teaching Service, the PDF will be wholly or largely accessible, and also copyright compliant.   

Further Guidance on creating Accessible documents