Learning management systems


The Learning Management Systems (LMS) provides means for efficient student and course management. Among other functions, the LMS makes available to students the course materials, assessments and communication tools therefore, they play a key role in ensuring equal opportunities. LMSs should not be limited to be accessible but also they should support the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) by CAST in order to create an inclusive environment.

Key tips

Universal Design for Learning

UDL takes into account the diversity of learners and their needs, abilities and preferences and as a result offers them multiple ways to engage with and understand the content to better achieve the learning goals.

Choosing the right LMS

Following are some keys to make an informed decision for choosing a LMS.

  1. Assess the importance that the LMS publicly gives to accessibility.
    • Is there any accessibility statement? If so, does it comply with WCAG?
    • Are the accessibility features stated?
    • Is accessibility and inclusion in the core principles that guide the design?
    • Is there any community or support service that may help tackle future accessibility issues?
  2. Evaluate the inclusiveness of the learning approach.
    • Does it follow the principles of the UDL?
    • Otherwise, does it promote an inclusive learning environment? Student-centred approaches tend to create inclusive and equitable learning environments, such as project-based learning.
  3. Evaluate the accessibility.
    • You may use the web accessibility procedure. See: Web.
    • Check user interface; students and teachers.
      • Test common accessibility issues like content structure and headings , text size, colour contrast, text alternatives for non-text elements.
      • Test the navigation. Students and teachers should be able to navigate and interact with all elements using only the keyboard.
      • Test multimedia elements such as videos and audios. They should be operable only with the keyboard and have the possibility of attaching closed captions and transcriptions.
      • Test the interactive elements. The LMS should provide labelling capability for stating the functionality of fields and controls. They should  be easy to use, predictable and help users when there are errors.
      • Test the accessibility of all available types of assessment (interactive exercises and questions) since they are prone to create accessibility problems.
    • Test the authoring tools for content creation.
      • They should be accessible to teachers and maintainers.
      • The LMS should promote the accessibility of the educational material, raising awareness and making it easy to verify the accessibility of the content uploaded to the LMS.

It is common that during the deployment of a new LMS, new functionalities and customised front ends are developed. Out of the box the LMS may be accessible but further modifications require a new accessibility assessment to comply with accessibility standards like WCAG. Some accessibility issues to be aware of here are the following:

  • Consistent and intuitive layout.
  • Predictable and keyboard-only navigation.
  • Descriptive headings, labels and instructions for interactive elements.
  • Enough colour contrast and legible text sizes.
  • Appropriate alternative texts for non-text elements.

Having running an accessible and customised LMS does not assure the delivery of inclusive digital distance education. Inclusion and accessibility has to be taken into account, among them are:

  • Educational material provided by the LMS should be accessible themselves.
  • A student support service should be available for the educational community.
  • Technical support and maintenance of the system.
  • Therefore, to provide an inclusive learning environment the educational institution should have a holistic strategy. Some examples of such are:
  • Raising awareness among the whole educational community.
  • Provide training teaching and administrative staff in accessibility.
  • Make accessibility and inclusion part of the quality assurance institutional procedures.
Some LMSs and their accessibility resources and statements