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Accessible course formats

Designing your Moodle space with accessibility in mind benefits everyone.

Course formats set the display and layout of your Moodle space. The course format you use and it's settings have a big imapact on the accessibility of your Moodle space. Participants who use screen readers or navigate solely with a keyboard are particularly impacted by your choice of course format.

Moodle offers several course formats that you can choose from. The most popular course formats are listed below with advice on how which is the most accessible format and how to optimise your chosen format to be as accessible as possible.

Topics

Topics is the best format for those using adaptive technologies. Well labelled topics/sections allow for easy navigation through course content. Participants can use their browser search function to search for and quickly find what they are looking for.

The Topics format has two course layout options. "Show all topics on one page" (the long scroll), or "Show one section per page". One section per page exposes the general section and all topics/sections are collapsed. A summary of the activities and resources located within each topic/section is displayed when collapsed.

To optimise accessibility, ensure

  • topics/sections are clearly and accurately labeled
  • organise activities by week, unit or topic, rather than activity (e.g., don’t put all the readings in one section, all the presentation slides in another section, etc.)
  • refer to each activity by the same name every time you refer to it, even minor variations such as "Week 1 Quiz" referred to later as "Weekly Quiz" can be confusing.
A screenshot of a Moodle space using Topics format set to show all sections on one page
A screenshot of a Moodle space using Topics format set to show all sections on one page.

 

A screenshot of a Moodle space using Topics format set to show one section per page
A screenshot of a Moodle space using Topics format set to show one section per page.

Weekly

The Weekly format autofills the weeks based on a start date. The Weekly format is not as accessible as the Topics format, as it relies on participants remembering when the content was delivered to find what they need.

The Weekly format has two course layout options. "Show all topics on one page" (the long scroll), or "Show one section per page". One section per page exposes the general section and all topics/sections are collapsed. A summary of the activities and resources located within each topic/section is displayed when collapsed.

To optimise accessibility, ensure

  • a description of that week's teaching and the content participants will find in each topic/section is provided.
A screenshot of a Moodle space using Weekly format set to show all sections on one page
A screenshot of a Moodle space using Weekly format set to show all sections on one page.

 

A screenshot of a Moodle space using Weekly format set to show one section per page
A screenshot of a Moodle space using Weekly format set to show one section per page.

Collapsible

The Collapsible format hides all content under expandible topic/section headings. Participants can expand each topic/section individually, by clicking on the topic/section title, or, using expand/collapse all, show all the content in all the topics/sections. A summary of the activities and resources located within each topic/section is displayed when collapsed.

To optimise accessibility, ensure

  • topics/sections are clearly and accurately labeled
  • organise activities by week, unit or topic, rather than activity (e.g., don’t put all the readings in one section, all the presentation slides in another section, etc.)
  • refer to each activity by the same name every time you refer to it, even minor variations such as "Week 1 Quiz" referred to later as "Weekly Quiz" can be confusing.
A screenshot of a Moodle space using the Collapsible format
A screenshot of a Moodle space using Topics format set to show all sections on one page.

Grid

The Grid format hides all topics/sections beneath a grid of 'boxes' with customisable images and short titles. To access the content, the participants click on one of the icons. The Grid format has two course layout options. The default, "Show all sections on one page" where clicking on an icon brings up the content from the corresponding topic in a "lightbox" style display, or "Show one section per page" where clicking on a icon will take the participant to the page.

Unfortunately, screen readers cannot 'read' the content contained in the lighbox display and particpants using keyboards cannot navigate through the content.

To optimise accessibility, ensure

  • the Grid Format is set to "Show one section per page"
  • the topic/section titles are not solely in the images. A screen reader can't read the text in an image. The topic/section titles should remain visible
  • when titles are positioned inside the 'box' ensure the title is distinguishable from the image. Add a high contrast background colour to the text, for example.
A screen shot of a Moodle space using Grid format
A screen shot of a Moodle space using Grid format.

 

A screenshot of a Moodle space using Grid set to show one section per page A screenshot of a Moodle space using Grid set to show one section per page.

 

A screenshot of a Moodle space using Grid format set to show all sections in one page
A screenshot of the lightbox on a Moodle space using Grid format set to show all sections in one page.

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