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Brickfield: A New Moodle Accessibility Toolkit

Photo by Becky Kirkland.

Have you ever wished you had a tool for identifying and fixing accessibility issues in your Moodle site? Good news! NC State instructors now have access to the new Brickfield Accessibility+ Toolkit in their Moodle projects and new course spaces. This tool will help instructors future-proof their course for accessibility issues, as well as remediate their course if they receive notification that one of their enrolled students requires accommodations.

What is “Future-Proofing” and How Can it Help?

When a student who is registered with the Disability Resource Office (DRO) enrolls in a course, the DRO sends each of the student’s instructors a letter detailing the accommodations that person’s disability requires by law. Having to thoroughly analyze each activity and resource in the course and offer an alternative or otherwise create an accommodation for students right as the semester is beginning can be stressful and time-consuming. Future-proofing your course by proactively addressing potential issues is a way to prevent this stress and beginning-of-semester scramble.

Also, keep in mind that only about a third of college students with disabilities inform their schools about their learning needs (source: National Center for Education Statistics). Even if you have not received a letter, you likely have students for whom accessibility issues pose a barrier to learning. In addition, removing barriers to access can benefit students who don’t identify as having a disability. For example, adding alternative text (i.e. “alt text”) for images (necessary for learners using screen-reading software) to images can help instructors think more intentionally about the purpose of the image and clarify its purpose to all students. You can make a course more readable and navigable for everyone by using accessible layout features like headers and tagged tables. And using strategies for clear and accessible hyperlinks benefits all students 

How Does the Accessibility+ Toolkit Work?

When you submit your course for analysis, the Brickfield Accessibility+ Toolkit will analyze your course’s images, text, layout, hyperlinks, media and tables. Once the analysis is complete, you will be able to review accessibility reports, use wizards for fixing common errors and access guides for enhancing the accessibility of your course.

The Toolkit also includes access to SensusAccess for on-demand file conversion. With this software, any uploaded file or any Moodle page can be converted by instructors or students into one of several alternative formats, including text, spoken audio files, e-books and braille. File conversion is accomplished by clicking the icon to the right of a resource in Moodle and selecting the desired alternative format (see image). 

Can Brickfield Make My Course 100% Accessible?

Improving course accessibility is an ongoing process, and Brickfield’s Accessibility+ Toolkit is a powerful new technology to use for improving the accessibility of your Moodle course. Note that the Toolkit cannot think or interpret context, but rather just examines underlying code and points out probable issues. 

To make a course accessible requires a human who understands the learning outcomes and purposes of the items in the course. For example, composing appropriate alt text requires understanding the purpose and context of the image within the course. (WebAIM has a wonderful explanation of alternative text).

Brickfield checks most course components that are native to Moodle. After future-proofing with Brickfield, you may have a number of items that must be checked either manually or using some other accessibility checker to continue improving the accessibility of your course. For instance, Brickfield does not currently check blocks in the Block Drawer in Moodle (coming soon!), external tools and plug-ins like PlayPosit, Panopto, H5P, etc., and the content of files that are not native to Moodle such as Google Docs and uploaded Word and PDF files.

Getting Started with Brickfield

DELTA’s Accessibility Team is here to help you utilize this new tool and help you navigate improving the accessibility of your course. We are offering a Zoom session introducing and demonstrating the tool on May 10, 2023 at 10 a.m. Register in REPORTER for this session

We’ve also prepared a Brickfield Accessibility+ Toolkit User Guide to help you get started and take advantage of some of the most straightforward issues. For additional help, feel free to request a consultation.