Accessibility

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Note: For developers, please see Accessibility Checklist for guidelines on implementing accessibility.

Mahara's goal for accessibility

Mahara aims to be usable by as many individuals as possible, including those with disabilities or special needs. To this end, any discrepancies from major accessibility standards, guidelines or legislation shall be logged as defects in the bug tracker, and tagged with "accessibility", for inclusion in an appropriate release. We have been working on Mahara's accessibility since version 1.9.

Summary of web content accessibility in Mahara

Creating accessible web content is a requirement in many countries. In order to provide international guidelines, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were created. There are three conformance levels under the WCAG 2.0, the latest edition of the guidelines: A, AA, and AAA. Each level requires conformance with previous levels and includes its own specific guidelines for how websites should be made accessible. The accessibility standards of New Zealand, Australia, Europe and the USA draw from WCAG 2.0 and require at minimum Level AA conformance. In order to better understand the status quo of accessibility in Mahara, we tested the software against all three WCAG 2.0 levels.

We grouped Mahara's pages into three categories: Pages for viewing web content, pages for creating and editing content and administration pages. However, we can only test built-in pages and the basic structure of portfolio pages as it is up to the users to ensure the content they upload (i.e. the user-generated content) is accessible.

Accessibility features in Mahara

Here are some of the accessibility features in Mahara. These features were first included in Mahara 1.9. They can be found in both pages for creating and editing content and pages for viewing content.


  • Keyboard-accessible controls and elements
    • People who use only the keyboard can now access the dropdown menus in the main navigation.
    • We have also worked on the keyboard accessibility of the controls for creating pages.
  • Descriptive alt text for images: We have provided alt text for images such as those used in pages for viewing content. This is very important to blind users in understanding the overall content of the pages.
  • Properly labelled graphical links and controls
    • Graphical links such as the one for editing the user's profile picture now have alt text. This lets screen reader users know the purpose of the graphical links.
    • Buttons and checkboxes are now labeled. This is especially helpful in complex forms.
  • Use of focus management: In certain pages, focus is moved to the next logical section after the user has activated a specific button or link. This enables users of assistive technology to quickly determine their location in the page and their next step.
  • Text descriptions for screen reader users: The tabs such as the ones in the Profile page now have a textual indicator informing screen reader users about the currently selected tab.

Administration Pages

Most of the administration pages include the accessibility improvements mentioned above. However, since administration is the most complex part of Mahara, there are still some pages that may have issues. We are continuing to work on Mahara's accessibility and we aim to address these issues in future versions.

Conclusion

Mahara has a good level of accessibility when it comes to viewing and creating content. We are continuing to test the administration pages in order to make them more accessible. With the right configuration, Mahara can be used by organizations that require compliance with WCAG 2.0 Level AA.

For more information on specific issues and their status of investigation, please refer to https://blueprints.launchpad.net/mahara/+spec/accessibility

We invite people to test changes as they become available and welcome the insight of other accessibility researchers who think there are issues we have not addressed which should be looked into.

If you wish to get involved in fixing these issues, either by providing your development time or by providing funding, please get in touch with us via info@mahara.org.

Individual jurisdictions

New Zealand

The New Zealand Web Accessibility Standard has a four-year time frame for achieving compliance with WCAG 2.0 Level AA. This time frame began in July 2013 and will require full compliance by June 2017, with stricter requirements every year. The first phase ends in June 2014, by which time all home pages, contact pages and pages delivering high-stakes information must conform to WCAG 2.0 Level AA. We continue to make Mahara compliant with each phase as it comes into effect, starting with version 1.9 released in April 2014.


Australia

Australia's Web Accessibility National Transition Strategy (NTS) outlines the time frame for WCAG 2.0 conformance. All government websites were required to have Level A compliance by December 2012 and must be compliant with the Level AA requirements by December 2014. Mahara had achieved Level AA compliance before December 2014.


European Union

Websites for EU agencies created after January 2010 are expected to comply with WCAG 2.0 Level AA, as stated in the IPG Web Accessibility rules. However, existing websites may be gradually improved to this level. We are working to ensure that Mahara remains Level AA conformant.


USA

Section 508 of the US Rehabilitation Act is a law which requires the federal government to use accessible web technologies. This legislation is currently being revised and is expected to draw from WCAG 2.0 Level AA when the refresh comes into effect. We will implement any requirements specific to Section 508 when the refresh is made public.

Other links

International

UK

See also the Equality Act 2010 Statutory Code of Practice (PDF) for Services, public functions and associations.

Germany

European Union