How to get started with eLearning accessibility
It’s more important than ever that eLearning content is accessible to all learners, but it can be tricky to know where to start.
In this blog, we are going to look at the basics of creating accessible content and some of the tools and resources out there to help you.
What is accessible learning?
Firstly, it’s important to understand exactly what accessibility means. The UK government define accessibility as when people can do what they need to do in a similar amount of time and effort as someone that does not have a disability.
When it comes to designing eLearning content, it means providing a frustration-free experience to all users, no matter what their disability or impairment is.
Why create accessible learning?
Firstly, it’s the right thing to do. A 2021 survey revealed that around 13% of workers in UK live with a disability – so it is likely that your learning will be taken by someone with an impairment.
What to consider when creating accessible eLearning
The best resource for understanding accessibility best practice is the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The guidelines are designed to help content developers make their content more accessible.
The WCAG set the standard for how to create content for people with cognitive differences, and visual, audio, and motor impairments. These guidelines are broken down into four key principles, which are:
Perceivable – Ensures that the content can be seen or heard.
Operable – Ensures the content can be used with multiple forms of input, such as a keyboard and that the interface controls are clear.
Understandable – The content is presented in a clear and simple manner.
Robust – The content works with all browsers and assistive technology.
If your content considers and meets the needs of these four principles, then it’s likely to meet one of the three Levels given by WCAG to define how accessible something is.
Level AAA is the highest and defines content that is completely accessible. The second level is AA, which is content where someone with an impairment can view or understand the content, and Level A is the most basic, where anyone without a physical or intellectual impairment can view the content, but doesn’t offer any other accessibility support.
There can be a lot to unpack for beginners when trying to understand the WCAG guidelines, but training is available for those that want to learn more.
Top tips for making your eLearning content more accessible
1. Take time to understand the guidelines
Whether it’s through accessibility training or familiarising yourself with the relevant guidelines, the WCAG has everything you need to understand and apply accessibility best-practice. Start with the basics and build up your knowledge over time.
2. Invest in software that supports accessibility
It’s important to have the tools that support what you want to achieve. When you choose a new authoring or content tool, ask about the accessibility features and if it can help you meet the WCAG guidelines.
3. Test your content
You probably already test your content. But do you test with accessibility front of mind?
Does your course contain any blockers or barriers that might frustrate someone that has an impairment? Do your videos and images have captions and alt text? Will everyone be able to navigate through your course easily? And as you learn and test more, the easier it will be to spot accessibility issues. Here’s the WCAG list of easy checks for beginners.
4. Training and awareness
Having more accessibility experts in your organisation can only be a good thing. It can help maintain best practices, and build a culture where accessibility and user experience are kept at the forefront of people’s minds.
This is just a basic introduction to accessibility, but stay tuned for more information on this important topic in the coming months.