Appendix 3: Legislation and standards

Supporting evidence for original CMALT submission, Section 3. The Wider Context. Superseded with updates to the portfolio January 2016.

Appendix 3a: Accessibility presentation summary

The following is a document outlining the findings from accessibility research which are directly relevant to the way the Online Masters Programmes operate. This outline then formed a short presentation to staff.

Accessibility guidelines for the Online Masters Programmes

Matt Cornock – Feb 2008

Key concerns

Visual impairment, audio impairment, dyslexia, motor impairment (use of keyboard/mouse), technical restrictions

Our obligation

  1. DDA for websites, SENDA for educational material. Inclusive of marketing, enrolment, content, assessment.
  2. “…Not to treat students less favourably, without justification, for a reason which relates to their disability.”
  3. “…To make reasonable adjustments to ensure that people who are disabled are not put at a substantial disadvantage.”
  4. Anticipatory not reactive.


Internet guidelines are lengthy and contradictory, there are a few simple rules to stick to when creating things for the web (the most relevant for our purpose).


  1. Create Word documents with headings (from the style menu) and export to PDF with settings to preserve document structure and create a heading tree for easy navigation.
  2. Avoid serif fonts that merge letters (dyslexia). The preferred font is Verdana, this is the one that is chosen for Hard Copy printing.
  3. Avoid over-capitalisation, italicisation or underline for emphasis. Use bold instead. Capitals and italics are hard to read (dyslexia), underline is typically reserved for links.
  4. Do not use full justification in documents (dyslexia).
  5. Avoid long paragraphs. Use bullets where appropriate (dyslexia).
  6. When using lists integrate a description/the number of items in the preceding text. E.g. Choose one of the following ten options. (Screen mag/reader)
  7. Use appropriate punctuation. Screen readers pause at full stops, briefly at commas, but pronounce – as “ndash” (sometimes ignore it completely) and / as ‘(forward)slash’.
  8. Do not reference by colour (colour blindness) and avoid using red or green together as sole indicators (i.e. do not say, click the red button).
  9. Always expand the first occurrence of any abbreviation.

On Moodle/VLE

  1. Use descriptive links. Avoid ‘click here’ and use a descriptive link, or text to describe the link immediately adjacent. Avoid links with the same name.
  2. Include warnings of file sizes for downloading (dial-up users)
  3. Ensure any non-text material has a text equivalent (e.g. multimedia).
  4. Use the Online Masters Programmes Dreamweaver plug-in to create web pages to aid in ensuring they are standards compliant.
  5. Keep image files small in size (never use an image straight from your camera) and always include a description (dialup users/screen readers).
  6. In addition to the ‘alt=’ attribute for images (required), you can use ‘longdesc=’ or preferably a [D] link for detailed description if not included in the main text or a suitable alt full description.
  7. Summaries should be provided for data tables/graphs with the ‘summary=’ attribute or include detailed description in main text.

Content development

  1. Use tables for table data, not for layout.
  2. Include warnings of new windows, screen readers/magnifiers can cause confusion.
  3. Break consecutive links using a list or separation character.
  4. Do not use time-critical interfaces. (Warn and provide means of extension if you must (S508)).
  5. If links are embedded within multimedia/flash content, ensure these links feature in plain text outside the embedded material.
  6. Scripted responses also require a static text equivalent (S508).
  7. Multimedia content requiring a plug-in or programme should be indicated with a link to the plug-in (S508).
  8. Contrasting colours (using the WAI contrast/colour ratios guidelines) (partially sighted).

Appendix 3b: XHTML code rewrite

This example of re-coding and keeping to standards has resulted in smaller HTML files and made it easier to re-link resources (reducing errors caused by not changing the link in two place.) The re-coding helps with accessibility too, allowing a non-pop-up version of the web page to exist if students using screen-readers have disabled JavaScript in their browser (by removal of the target attribute).

Original HTML code for a weblink from TALL, Oxford, 2002.

<a target=”_blank” href=”” onClick=”‘’,’documentResource’,’width=620,height=480,resizable=yes,location=yes,menubar=yes,scrollbars=yes,toolbar=yes,personalbar=yes’); return false;” title=”Open weblink in new window”><img class=”smallIconInline” title=”Web resource” alt=”” border=”0″ height=”20″ width=”20″ src=”document-resource.gif”/>Google</a>

My re-worked HTML code, drawing on a central JavaScript library with a custom function called newWindow() that opens the resource in a new window.

<a href=”” onclick=”return newWindow(this.href,’resourcea’);”><img class=”smallIconInline” alt=”Web resource” src=”../document-resource.gif”/>Google</a>