Digital equity and accessible MOOCs: Accessibility evaluations of mobile MOOCs for learners with visual impairments

Kyudong Park, Hyo Jeong So, Hyunjin Cha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Despite the popular claim that massive open online courses (MOOCs) can democratise educational opportunities, this study suggests that current MOOC platforms are not designed to be accessible and inclusive for learners with disabilities. Our main goals in this study were to identify the needs and barriers that learners with visual impairments face when learning with mobile devices in MOOCs and to make recommendations for designing MOOCs that are more accessible and inclusive. We conducted this study in two phases: a user study (Phase I) and a heuristic walkthrough (Phase II). In Phase I, we conducted a user study with three university students with visual impairments to identify their needs and the barriers to learning that they encounter in mobile MOOC platforms. In Phase II, five evaluators conducted a heuristic walkthrough based on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (World Wide Web Consortium, 2008) to examine the degree of accessibility of a MOOC platform. Overall, the results indicate that serious accessibility issues exist in MOOC platforms, preventing learners with visual impairments from fully participating in learning activities. We conclude this paper by recommending ways to design mobile MOOCs to make them more accessible for learners with visual impairments. Implications for practice or policy: • To make MOOCs accessible to learners with visual impairment, MOOC platforms need to provide auto-translation and downloadable lectures with subtitles. • Efforts should be devoted to providing alternative texts for non-text content media and information on the current state in hidden menu elements. • The use of bypass buttons can help learners with visual impairment better access repetitive information. • This study recommends improving the accessibility of MOOCs based on the universal design for learning principles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-63
Number of pages16
JournalAustralasian Journal of Educational Technology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE).


  • Accessibility
  • Digital equity
  • Learners with visual impairments
  • MOOCs
  • Mobile learning
  • Universal design for learning


Dive into the research topics of 'Digital equity and accessible MOOCs: Accessibility evaluations of mobile MOOCs for learners with visual impairments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this