Is your virtual training accessible?
Many of us, by now, have mastered the art of virtual in-person training (sometimes known as “Zoomversity.”) But now we need to consider—is our virtual training accessible? Can it be used by people who have disabilities, such as those related to vision, hearing, mobility, or cognition?
I recently presented on the idea that online training needs to be accessible—whether “live” virtual in-person training or training that was pre-packaged and available “later,” either through videos, PDFs, or traditional elearning.
I’ve discussed accessible elearning in-depth (such as in The Training Manager’s Guide to Accessible Elearning and Elearning for All). But what about virtual, live, in-person sessions? Do they need to be accessible? Well, yes.
So how do you do it?
Many of the same techniques that you’d use to create an accessible experience in-person training session can be used in a virtual setting. Consider:
- Do you use presentation slides when you train in a classroom? If so, does the content meet color contrast ratios?
- Do you provide the class material ahead of time (and does that material meet standards for digital content accessibility)?
- When discussing the slides (or other content), do you describe what you are doing, so that those who can’t see the content understand what’s going on?
(This last idea can be controversial, especially with presentation slides—we’re informed that we should never read our slides. So can you design slides so that they support what you are saying, illustrate your points, instead of including text that replicates your points?)
If you do these things in person, and carry them over to your virtual event, you’ve gone a long way in making your online training accessible. Additional factors to consider are incorporating captions (automatic captions, or using a live captioning service); making sure to announce yourself whenever you start speaking (especially if there are multiple presenters), and noting the accessibility-related capabilities and workarounds of the video conferencing (or other) solution you’re using.
I don’t want to downplay the challenges of creating accessible live virtual training events. It’s not always easy to do, and technology can throw up unexpected obstacles and get in the way as often as it presents solutions.
But you’ve already gone a long way in reaching out to your attendees when you moved to a virtual environment. Ensuring the accessibility of your online training solution is the next step in making your training available to all of your attendees.
Resources for Making Online Training Accessible
For more information on making online training accessible, including the accessibility of different videoconferencing platforms, be sure to take a look at resources from my recent presentation.
Watch the presentation
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.