It Takes Effort and Attention to Create Accessible Elearning. Who Benefits?
Have you ever wondered whether your elearning needs to be accessible? That is, whether it needs to be perceivable, operational, understandable, and robust for use by those with disabilities?
The revision of the federal procurement standard Section 508 has just been published (it’s been a standard since 1998, and under review for the past few years). In short, Section 508 mandates that, in order to be purchased by the federal government, elearning must be accessible (as must other information and communication technology).
To be considered accessible, elearning needs to meet certain technical standards, like having adequate color contrast for visually impaired users, being navigable by screen reader software, having captions on all videos, etc. But if accessibility’s not required, why make elearning accessible?
Think of all that’s involved.
Who has time to caption video? What about the restrictions in design choices? No more light gray, thin-stroke text on a white background (not enough color contrast). No more drag and drops (requires a mouse, which doesn’t work for keyboard-only users). And you’ve got to maintain a logical tabbing order from element to element (for keyboard navigation).
Even if you don’t have a disability, who likes to squint at light gray text on a phone screen? Who’s tabbed through a web form to save time? Who’s turned on video captioning, so they could watch a (work-related!) video without disturbing their coworkers?
These restrictions don’t mean that you have to create click’n’reads. Look at Cathy Moore’s (non-eye-candy) example—engaging and easy to make navigable with a tab key (and screen reader!).
Can we turn restrictions into opportunities? Can we broaden our audience, empowering those who have disabilities while creating engaging elearning?
Of course we can.
Until next time,
Microassist Senior Learning Architect
Note: This commentary was originally published January 2017 in our monthly Learning Dispatch newsletter. In addition to L&D commentary, the newsletter presents snippets from related industries to inform and enhance your learning and development expertise. Subscribe below!
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