Accessibility statement for Moodle
This accessibility statement covers all Moodle-based services supplied by the University of Essex. This includes our main Moodle website, moodle.essex.ac.uk, and our secondary Moodle website, moodlex.essex.ac.uk (soon to be re-branded Open Essex). Moodle X is available to external users, e.g. partner institutions and members of the public. The statement also covers all archive copies of Moodle created and maintained by the University (see moodlearchive.essex.ac.uk). For the purposes of this statement, we will refer to all of these services collectively as "Moodle" as they all use the same underlying code base.
Moodle is the University chosen Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It is used to provide learning activities and resources to both students and staff studying and working at the University of Essex. Moodle X (Open Essex) also provides Open Educational Resources (OER) to members of the public.
Moodle is free, Open Source software. Some aspects of its design are outside of our immediate control (although we can influence its future development through our involvement with the global Moodle community).
More information about Moodle's approach to accessibility can be found on the accessibility page in Moodle Docs. This includes information on the guiding principles behind the development of the project in terms of accessibility.
We want as many people as possible to be able to use our Moodle services. For this reason, we have designed and modified Moodle so that you are able to:
- zoom in up to 300% without experiencing major layout issues, or the text spilling off the screen
- navigate the website using the keyboard
- navigate using speech recognition software
- listen to the website using a screen reader (including the most recent versions of JAWS, NVDA and VoiceOver)
We have also made the text on these websites as simple as possible to understand. In addition, there are several customisation options for your browser (and device) that might help you use Moodle, as well as other websites, more efficiently and effectively.
AbilityNet provides advice on making your device easier to use if you have a disability.
How accessible is Moodle?
We know some elements of Moodle are not accessible. In particular, some of the learning resources hosted on our Moodle sites are not in an accessible format. However, we are working hard to remedy this situation by providing all content authors with training on accessibility.
Documents and files can be provided in alternative formats on request. The Library also provide a service called SensusAccess, which allows you to convert learning resources into a range of alternative formats yourself.
If you still experience barriers, please contact us to request learning resources in alternative formats.
Feedback and contact information
Please contact the Technology-Enhanced Learning team if you have an accessibility query, or need help, support or advice when using Moodle at the University of Essex. This might include situations where you are experiencing difficulties when trying to access, upload or create learning materials.
We would appreciate it if you alert us to any accessibility problems not listed on this statement. We also enjoy receiving positive feedback on the accessibility improvements we make to our Moodle websites.
When you contact us, we promise to acknowledge your message, tell you who is dealing with your query, and give you an indication of when you should expect a reply.
Reporting accessibility problems with Moodle
We're always looking to improve the accessibility of Moodle. If you find any problems not listed on this page, or think we're not meeting our accessibility obligations, please contact the Technology-Enhanced Learning team.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is the body responsible for enforcing the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018 (the accessibility regulations 2018). If you're not satisfied with how we respond to your complaint, you are free to contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) directly.
Technical information about Moodle's accessibility
The University of Essex is committed to making Moodle accessible, in accordance with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018.
Moodle is partially compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1 AA standard, due to the non-compliances listed below.
We regularly test the accessibility of representative user journeys across all three of our Moodle websites (Moodle, Moodle X and Moodle Archive). We use the WCAG 2.1 AA standards as the basis of our testing process.
Formal testing takes place twice a year (during the months of December and June). Ad hoc testing is also conducted in connection with accessibility project work , or when an issue is brought to our attention and needs to be investigated.
Some elements of Moodle may not work for everyone. Below are known issues that we either need to fix as soon as possible, are currently unable to fix, or do not need to fix right now. If you find something that does not work that we missed, please remember to contact us.
The content listed below is non-accessible for the following reasons.
Non-compliance with the accessibility regulations
This section covers problems that we are working to address as a matter of urgency. The issues listed refer to both the software platform (Moodle) and the content hosted on our various Moodle websites, e.g. lecture notes, slide decks and so on. Problems with the platform are more difficult and time-consuming to solve.
Information about Moodle's approach to accessibility can be found on the accessibility page in Moodle Docs. As well as this information, the Moodle Tracker identifies and reports on outstanding software bugs and issues in relation to accessibility.
Below, we have listed additional areas within Moodle that we know are not fully accessible. We plan to fix (or provide alternatives) for all issues that we identify during periodic internal testing and auditing of content, alongside any issues that are brought to our attention by members of the Essex community (and the wider public using our services).
- Some images do not have a text alternative, so people using a screen reader cannot access the information. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.1.1 (non-text content). We plan to add text alternatives for all images by October 2022. When we publish
new content we’ll make sure our use of images meets accessibility standards.
- Some of our images have text on them, so people using a screen reader cannot access the information. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.4.5 (Images of text). We plan to remove all images with text on them by October 2022. When we publish new
images we'll make sure they're free of text.
- Some of our videos do not have a captions, so some people will be unable to access the information or content. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.2.2 (captions (pre-recorded)). We plan to add captions for all our video media by October 2022.
When we publish new content we’ll make sure all our videos contain captions.
- On some pages the 'bold' tag has been used instead of the 'strong' tag. This means is only visually looks different, so screen readers cannot tell the text has been emphasised. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships).
We plan to replace all usage of the 'bold' tag across the website by October 2022. When we publish new content, we'll make sure we used alternative tags, such as 'strong' instead.
- Many of our pages have incorrect or ambiguous page titles. This makes it difficult to determine what page you are currently viewing. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 2.4.2 (Page Titled). We plan to ensure that all pages have the correct titles
by October 2022.
- Some of our input fields are missing their descriptions. This means it is hard for some assisted technologies to know what the field is for. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.3.5 (Info and Relationships) 3.3.2 (labels or instructions),
4.1.2 (Name, Role, Value). We plan to ensure all input fields have descriptions by October 2022. When we publish new input fields we'll make sure they have descriptions.
- On some of our pages HTML has been used to format content rather than CSS. This can make reading text with some assisted technologies confusing. This fails WCAG 2.1. success criterion 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships). We plan to ensure all content is
formatted with CSS only by October 2022. When new content is added, we'll make sure it is not formatted with HTML.
- On some of our pages the language has not be set. This makes it difficult for some assisted technologies to know how to pronounce words or know what language the website is in. This fails success criterion 3.1.1 (Language of Page). We plan to ensure
every web page has its language set by October 2022.
- On some of our pages we have used code similar to a form, but have not included a 'submit' button. This means it can be confusing for assisted technologies to know what the intended behaviour of this section is. This fails WCAG 2.1. success criterion
3.2.2 (On input). We plan to ensure every page that uses form code has a submit button, or the code is removed by October 2022. When new content is added we'll make sure either to not use form code, or include a submit button where we do.
- On some of our links, the only identifiable mark that it is a link is a colour change. This makes it difficult for people who cannot perceive colour to know that a link is in use. This fails WCAG 2.1. success criterion 1.4.1 (Use of color). We plan
to ensure all links have at least two identifiable elements to them by October 2022. When new links are added we'll make sure that colour isn't the only way one can identify a link.
- Some of our Element ID's are not unique. This makes it hard for assisted technologies to understand what the purpose of the element is. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships). We plan to ensure all our Element IDs are
unique by October 2022. We'll make sure any new element IDs added are unique.
- Some of our link text is the same but used for multiple different destinations on the same page. This makes it difficult for some people to know where the link points to without further explanation. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 2.4.4
(Link purpose (in context)). We plan to ensure all of our link text is unique for each new destination by October 2022. We'll make sure any new links added are unique.
- On some of our pages labels are used that are not connected to a form control. This makes it difficult for assisted technologies to know how to refer to each label when presenting a form control. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.3.1 (Info and
Relationships). We plan to ensure that our labels are connected to a form control by October 2022. We'll make sure any new forms or labels added will be linked.
- On some of our images our alternative text is identical to the image link text. This means that assisted technologies will read this twice and it could be confusing. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.1.1 (non-text content). We aim to ensure
link text and alternative text are different, or only one piece of text is used by March 2021. When we add new images, that are also links will have unique text from now on.
- On some occasions the link text we have used is too generic in its current context. This means it isn't clear where the user will reach when clicking on the link. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 2.4.4 (Link purpose (in context)). We plan
to ensure all our links are clearly described so it is apparent to the user where they are navigating through by October 2022. In future we'll make sure that all of our links are descriptive and not too generic.
- Some of our tables are missing their description, which makes it hard for screen readers to understand the purpose of the table. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships). We plan to address all tables and their descriptions
by October 2022.
- Some of our WAI-ARIA roles do not match the functionality of the element. This makes it confusing for assisted technologies to interpret the website. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.2 (Name, Role, Value). We plan to ensure each WAI-ARIA
role matches the functionality of the element by October 2022.
- Some of our images should be marked as decorative This makes it confusing for screen readers to know whether the image is of value to the content on not. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.1.1 (non-text content). We plan to ensure all decorative
images are marked as such by March 2021.
- Some of our form elements are not grouped with a field-set to make them easier to navigate through. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships) 3.3.2 (Labels or instructions). We plan to address all form issues,
and ensure elements of a similar nature are grouped together by October 2022.
- Some of our text areas on forms do not have descriptions. This makes it hard for uses of assisted technologies to know what the area is for. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships) 3.3.2 (Labels or instructions)
4.1.2 (Name, Role, Value). We plan to address all forms and text area descriptions by October 2022.
- On some of our pages, there is no option to skip repeated content. This means that users of assisted technologies have no option to skip this content. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 2.4.1 (Bypass Blocks). We plan to address this, so users can
skip repeated content by October 2022.
- On occasion, we have have used two or more HTML5 or WAI-ARIA landmarks of the same type that have not been named. Users might not know the difference if it's not explained. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships). We plan
to address all landmarks and ensure they are distinguishable by October 2022.
- On some occasions the WAI-ARIA attribute is used but is redundant since it doesn't provide the user with any additional information. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.2 (Name, Role, Value). We plan to address all WAI-ARIA issues by October
- On some pages when navigating by keyboard focused components can be visually identified. If the focused component is not somehow highlighted, the user cannot be sure which component has focus. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 2.4.7 (Focus visible).
We plan to address this issue to ensure all areas are clearly highlighted when in focus by October 2022.
- On some of our pages, in certain areas the colour contrast is insufficient. This can present a problem for users with low-vision or colour-blindness. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 1.4.3 (Contrast minimum). We plan to address all contrast issues
by October 2022.
- On some of our pages, particularly pages containing course content, there exists malformed HTML. This can present a problem for screen readers and for general navigation of the page. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.1 (Parsing). We plan to
address all HTML issues by October 2022.
- Some of our status and error messages are not correctly labelled. This means that these messages could be mistaken for standard page content. This fails WCAG 2.1 success criterion 4.1.3 (Status Messages). We plan to address all status messages by
This section covers issues that we are unable to fix right now. We've estimated the cost of fixing these issues, and believe that doing so would put a disproportionate burden on the University (within the meaning of the law).
Captions for videos (content)
Some of our recorded content on Moodle, such as embedded or uploaded videos or podcasts, may not have a transcript or captions by default. All recordings hosted on Panopto (our lecture capture software), will be accompanied by automated captions. This includes all video content hosted on our Listen Again service.
Note: All video content uploaded to Panopto is machine-transcribed using their propitiatory Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technology. The quality and accuracy of the text generated is dependant on input from the speaker—including their accent, vocal modulation and intonation—as well as the specific machine learning algorithm being used by Panopto.
As language understanding models use a vast lexicon of common phrases and sentences to automatically transcribe spoken words, they often accidentally reflect human cognitive biases (this difficulty is known as unintended bias). As such, the captions we provide might not be a complete and accurate transcription of the speaker's words. The University of Essex is committed to improving this situation, and plans are in place to increase both the accuracy and reliability of automated transcripts and captions in the near future.
In the meantime, the Technology-Enhanced Learning team can produce fully edited transcripts and captions upon request. Content authors, e.g. lecturers and instructors, will also make a text-based alternative available when the information in the recorded content constitutes core or essential learning, e.g. annotated lecture slides, or a brief set of lecture notes.
Historical content on the Moodle Archives
The Moodle archives are a read-only snapshot of Moodle at the end of each academic year. We host the previous four years worth of snapshots in the archives.
We believe that due to the historical nature, scope, and infrequent use of the archives that retroactively updating non-accessible content would be a disproportionate burden on content authors within the means of the accessibility regulations.
In the meantime, you can contact the content author (usually the module's lecturer) directly and request accessible versions of the content you require.
Content not within the scope of the accessibility regulations
This section covers issues that we do not need to fix right now. In law, these are called exemptions.
Uploaded PDF files and documents
Non-essential PDF files and office documents, e.g. Microsoft Word files, that were published before 23rd September 2018 are exempt. If you experience difficulty accessing any of these documents, please contact us and we will do our best to provide the information in an alternative format.
Moodle contains third-party content that we do not own or control. Although we are not responsible for the accessibility of this content, we will make best endeavours to work with third-party providers to improve their approach to accessibility. This content includes:
- Listen Again recordings (via Panopto).
- Content from Learning On Screen (Box of Broadcasts).
- Content on Talis Aspire (reading lists).
- LinkedIn Learning video content.
To help accessibility compliance across the HE sector, the University of Essex supports searchBOX. This free service is an independent directory of third-party accessibility information. It catalogues the contact information and accessibility statements of third-party suppliers, and also supports the sharing of community-generated accessibility statements.
You can access third-party accessibility statements using the free searchBOX Finder service.
The University of Essex encourages all our partners and suppliers to support this effort by ensuring that their accessibility information is included in the searchBOX directory.
What we’re doing to improve accessibility
The University of Essex is committed to fixing all of the issues highlighted in this statement. We are currently formulating a 5-year plan of accessibility improvements. We will publish our development road map in the Essex Accessibility Hub and link to it from this page when it is ready.
Preparation of this accessibility statement
This statement was prepared on 16 September 2020. It was last reviewed on 23 September 2020.
This website was last tested on 16 September 2020. The test was carried out by the Head of Technology-Enhanced Learning, University of Essex.
We tested a random sample of pages from all three of our Moodle instances. We also selected some pages that were representative of our current and future use of Moodle.