School websites and systems should be accessible to the widest possible audience, regardless of specific needs or disabilities. This post provides information regarding the different accessibility and assistive technology features available within Moodle, and an individual’s operating system or web browser.
Moodle Accessibility Block
The Accessibility block appears on each course page and allows users to customise Moodle to their visual needs. It supports changing of text sizes and colour schemes and users can save their preference so that it can be applied permanently throughout the site.
There are 8 buttons on the Accessibility Block. The 3 buttons on the top row displaying an A control the size of text onscreen:
Clicking any of these buttons will apply that colour scheme to the page. Different schemes may better suit those with specific disabilities. For example, research indicates that individuals with dyslexia find it difficult to read text with a high contrast level, and therefore black text on a yellow, rather than white, background, is likely to be more readable. Clicking the button on the far left will reset the scheme to default and clear any saved colour settings.
Web Browser Accessibility Options
The Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari and Firefox web browsers each contain options to improve accessibility.
Internet Explorer provides the following options to assist with accessibility:
- Using the keyboard to surf the web.
- Font size, formatting and screen colour customisation options.
- Tools to improve the way that Internet Explorer works with screen readers and voice recognition software.
- Improve legibility when printing webpages.
Further information on these accessibility options can be found on the Microsoft website.
The Chrome browser supports screen readers and magnifiers, and offers people with low vision full-page zoom, high-contrast colour and extensions. An extension extends the functionality of a web browser and some of these functions are designed to enhance accessibility.
Accessibility preferences in the Apple Safari web browser can be set by selecting Safari/Preferences in the browser window. About.com provides an article on these features, while Apple provide further support for OSX accessibility on their website.
Firefox includes many features to make the browser and web content accessible to all users, including those who have low vision, no vision, or limited ability to use a keyboard or mouse. Detailed information about these features can be found on the Mozilla website. Firefox also provide a limited range of browser extensions.
Operating System accessibility functions
There are many accessibility features built into computers and mobile devices (e.g. Windows 7 & 8, OS X, iOS, Android, etc.). This can include changing the appearance of the screen, colour schemes, increasing and decreasing text size, magnifying what’s onscreen, adjusting mouse and keyboard settings, increase or decrease the volume etc.
GCF LearnFree.org and Jisc provide general information about accessibility features built into different computers and mobile devices and the RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind) provide information specifically for visually impaired users. Apple’s website contains some great tips to assist with vision, hearing, physical and motor skills when using iPads and iPhones or Mac computers.
Read&Write 10 Gold
The School has a licence for Read&Write 10 Gold. It can be downloaded from the Utilities group in the Novell window.
Read&Write is an easy-to-use, flexible toolbar containing support features to make reading, writing and research easier. It is a good tool for anyone but has features that specifically support those with dyslexia. Read&Write contains tools to address problems with reading, writing, spelling and general literacy support. It is suitable for all ages and abilities.
The floating toolbar can be positioned anywhere on your screen. You can choose from pre-set toolbar options or create your own combination of support tools. You can also save your preferences. The tools integrate with Microsoft Word but also support screen reading on any application or webpage. There are about 25 tools available. Some of the features include:
- Spell checking written text for spelling errors as you type or at any selected time.
- Text-to-speech technology to allow written text to be read aloud.
- Written and Picture Dictionaries to help understand the meanings of tricky words and homophones, along with alternative suggestions.
- The Pronunciation Tutor helps to visually see how words, including their syllables are pronounced.
- The Sounds Like and Confusable Words feature identifies words that sound the same but are spelt differently such as “through” and “thorough”.
For more information, see this Beginners Guide.
Support within the School
Further support, extended services and assistive technologies are available to those who need them. More information about what is available can be found on the School website.