Young Asian blind woman at computer
eLearning Learning
October 7, 2022

Accessibility: Making It a Priority, Not an Afterthought


Today almost 26% of adults in the United States live with some sort of disability. That is why, more than ever before, it has become critical to develop accessible learning solutions.

Universal design principles and accessibility standards like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) make it possible to reduce barriers and make content available to a diverse range of learners. These learners can include people with physical disabilities like those who are blind or deaf and those with cognitive impairments like ADHD, Autism, and Dyslexia.

The principles also minimize the need for assistive technology, results in products compatible with assistive technology, and makes products more usable for everyone, not just people with disabilities.

While deciding to include accessibility principles in training content, it is essential to note that it is not simply a feature you can easily add after the fact. Designing for accessibility must be carefully thought out and considered from the start.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

When developing eLearning modules, educational websites, or other content designed to be accessed only on the web, standards exist to ensure web accessibility. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are international standards used by organizations, governments, and individuals to create accessible web-based content.

WCAG consists of four principles:

  • Perceivable
  • Operable
  • Understandable
  • Robust

All four of these principles are necessary to create web content that is accessible to all.

Getting Started Designing for Accessibility

Depending on your learning organization, the decision to design for accessibility could impact multiple teams and roles. When adopting an accessibility first approach, it’s important to include team members with the roles and from the teams that will be impacted by this change. In addition, having leadership support and buy-in early in your accessibility journey is essential.

Once you’ve identified your team and have leadership support, the next step is to identify what your minimum accessibility standard will be. Things to consider: your past client requests, the WCAG standards, and any rapid eLearning tool limitations.

Once your minimum accessibility standard for your organization is determined, begin the process of updating your procedures to support them by identifying all the places the change will affect.

For example, storyboard templates might need to be changed to include Alt Text and closed captioning text. Budgets and estimates will also need to account for the extra time required for testing and writing additional content.

Conclusion

Look at your current learning content. Is it accessible? Is it inclusive? Can you navigate your eLearning with just a keyboard? Try using a free screen reader to see what happens.

Designing for accessibility has become easier than ever before, thanks to well-established standards and rapid advances in learning development tools. It starts by reviewing existing processes and procedures and then determining how best to put accessibility first in your organization.

Is your organization ready to start designing for accessibility?

 

Watch the d'Vinci team's presentation at Training Industry's Leader Talk: But First, Accessibility: Making It a Priority, Not an Afterthought

Jenica Jones

By Jenica Jones, Senior eLearning Specialist

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