As technology becomes integrated into more facets of everyday life and business, businesses are increasingly likely to make use of Digital Learning as a means of continuing education and maintaining regulatory compliance. The rapid expansion of Digital Learning could leave disabled employees at a disadvantage, unless Digital Learning methods follow protocols that make them “accessible”. There are global standards for web accessibility, with a particular emphasis on Digital Learning applications. Find out how to make sure your online educational tools measure up!
What is Accessibility in Digital Learning?
Accessibility in Digital Learning broadly means making online resources and opportunities available to all users, including those with disabilities.
According to 2015 U.S. Census data, approximately 12% of the population includes people with disabilities, and another 10% are on the dyslexic spectrum. One in 4 U.S. adults – 61 million Americans – have a disability that impacts major life activities, according to a report in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Many of these individuals could be challenged to benefit from traditional online courses. It is incumbent on companies to proactively address these gaps, to ensure that all employees are able to participate in, and benefit from, the available learning and training opportunities.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) website, Chapter 126 states: “(1) in enacting the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Congress intended that the Act ‘provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities’ and provide broad coverage…” This means businesses are mandated to ensure that the online learning content they offer should be available to everyone in the workforce, including those with disabilities and/or people who need assistive technologies to access a major portion of the Digital Learning content.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are categorized under four main principles:
- Perceivable – Learners should be able to discover and comprehend the content and learning assets.
- Operable – Learners should be able to navigate and understand the user interface.
- Understandable – Learners should be able to understand the content and user interface.
- Robust – Content should be able to be interpreted by other user agents and assistive technologies.
How to Design Accessible eLearning Content for Everyone?
While designing the WCAG and 508 compliant courses, there are some simple tweaks that can help us adhere to the followed standards, and make the courses accessible to a wide range of learners.
The table below shows the principles that will help design WACG Level AA accessible digital learning courses alongside with a few actionable tips for each:
|Principle||Tip 1||Tip 2|
Keep a simple and linear layout, using only a few templates.
Include Alt texts (image labels) for all the images, graphics, icons, and logos. If the Alt text has more than 150 characters, add a separate image description button to show complete text.
Design simple interactivities like multiple-choice questions (MCQ), simple drop-downs, and so on. Avoid using interactivities, such as match the following and drag and drop, to make it accessible to learners using only the keyboard.
Keep the navigation simple.
Avoid complex fonts or serif fonts that have additional strokes attached to the letters.
From a design perspective, it is a good idea to have dark-colored fonts with light-colored background, and avoid dark background colors
Create robust content that is compatible with future assistive technologies.
Elements should have complete start and end tags and should be nested according to their specifications with no duplicate attributes.
The business benefits of both ensuring compliance with WCAG and offering high-quality digital learning experiences are numerous.
Accessible Digital Learning
Digital Learning is a cost-effective way for businesses to help companies educate their employees and address regulatory compliance requirements. It eliminates the need for employees to travel, purchase supplies or hire training consultants. Effective use of Digital Learning tools boosts employee productivity, offers quick feedback loops and improves retention of information.
Encora’s Digital Learning solutions have been continuously impacting the performance of more than 300+ enterprises, governments, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations across the world. We have a highly-skilled team of professionals who excel in delivering customizable accessible Digital Learning solutions. Get in touch to discuss how we can help your businesses’ exceed Digital Learning requirements!
- Section 508 Checklist – webiam.org
- Section 508 Checklist – wuhcag.com
- Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 – section508.gov.com
- E-learning Accessibility – w3.org
- 6 Tips For Designing Accessible eLearning – elearningindustry.com
- Authoring For Accessible Learning – elearningindustry.com
- Accessibility in E-Learning – accessiblecampus.ca
- Accessible Content Authoring Practices – accessiblecampus.ca
- Accessibility in e-Learning: Standards and Specifications – acc.think33.com
- Accessibility in eLearning: Busting Some Myths – kineo.com