I recently talked with a colleague about a recent workshop on accessible elearning that a few colleagues and I held at the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference. He said that it was rare that people think about accessibility (that is, ensuring that content is usable by those with disabilities) when creating online training. Sadly, he’s right, and that’s just wrong.
Instructional designers are often focused on things other than accessibility when creating training. One of the elements that makes online training better than it was a decade ago is that today’s authoring tools can create training with the pop and zing of fun-to-use apps. Designers can specialize in learning and development, and not software programming and testing, while still creating training that’s engaging on a visual, aesthetic, and emotional level.
Yet this can work against accessibility in a couple of ways. On the designer’s part, it’s both easy to create interactive elearning and easy to overlook the need to make those interactions usable by those with disabilities. And several of the tools instructional designers use to create elearning seem to bolt on accessibility as an afterthought (when they consider it at all), placing a higher priority on including new visual and interactive elements than on ensuring that training using those elements are accessible.
Yet there is hope. Tools are getting better and paying more attention to the need to be able to design accessible online training. Instructional designers are recognizing that users who have disabilities are part of the audience that they need to reach.
Designers (as well as training managers and others) are pushing authoring tools to develop the capabilities to do so.
When designers faced boring training, we created training that engages. When designers faced training that relied on learning myths and misconceptions, we created training that uses research-based practices. As designers face training that excludes people with disabilities, we can create training that’s usable by everyone.
Until next time,
About the author
Dr. Kevin Gumienny is our senior learning architect and leads the award-winning instructional design team at Microassist. He is a LexisNexis contributing author on the issues of accessibility within online learning and serves as chief editor for Microassist’s Learning Dispatch, a blog series and monthly newsletter featuring insights on instructional design and elearning.
Learn more about Custom Elearning Solutions
Accessible Elearning Solutions: Why Make your Training Accessible? One in five people in the United States has a disability. For many of them, much of today’s online content can be virtually impossible to use. Inaccessible online training creates barriers to learning, and can impede job performance.