The Need for Accessibility in eLearning
March, 14 2023
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Is your training content accessible to people with disabilities? Learning should be accessible to everyone but, unfortunately, people with disabilities are often overlooked whenever eLearning courses are designed.
A learning management system (LMS) has many advantages over it’s traditional, in-person counterparts like being able to deliver personalized content, allow learners to learn on their own time, and the instant updating of content. However, using a LMS can be tricky for those with disabilities and learning content creators need to prioritize building accessible courses to ensure all learners can benefit from their creation.
Common Disabilities to Account for and How to Address Them
Whenever attempting to account for the disabilities that can impact one’s learning experience, it certainly beneficial to critique the content but the way that learners interact with the LMS, namely through a computer, must be considered.
Almost 8% of the United States, or 20 million people, have vision impairments. Visual impairments may make the learner have difficulty with course content, like images or videos. On top of this, they may need to use screen magnification or need screen readers.
Transcript and Comply with Screen Readers
The best way to make a course accessible to someone with visual impairments would be to add descriptive alternative text to every visual element, like images or videos. This may help some, but not all, which is why that alternative text must comply with screen readers—ensuring that people who cannot physically read the text can hear it. Going even further, the user-interface elements, like the home button or course names, should be accessible by the screen reader and be responsive to high magnification.
Use High-Contrast Design
By using high-contrast design, people with visual impairments will be able to decipher the content much faster than if the whole course was different shades of one color.
430 million people have disabling hearing loss and many more have hearing issues. Suffering from hearing impairments can affect videos, presentations, or podcasts. Even if a person’s hearing impairment does not make them deaf, they could still have trouble understanding any of those elements especially if quiet, not mixed well, or made with a poor-quality microphone.
Subtitle and Caption
By subtitle and captioning videos, presentations, and podcasts, people who are hearing impaired can still learn from the from those different types of content.
Use High-Quality Equipment and Mixing
Hearing impairment doesn’t mean necessarily that one is deaf but it also doesn’t guarantee that low-quality audio will be understandable. Audio with a poor microphone and mixing, is already less accessible to people who aren’t hearing impaired and may prevent hearing impaired people from understanding completely.
Some motor impairments my prevent people from being able to use a mouse or being able to type on a keyboard. Furthermore, they may need to use speech-to-text software for completing or special types of hardware to interact with the course.
Use a Simple Course Layout
For people who can’t use a mouse, they may have to navigate the LMS and it’s courses via a keyboard, which can be very frustrating without a clear layout. Designs should follow clear up, down, left, right flows so the learner can easily navigate without jump all around the page.
Everything Can Be Completed Without a Mouse
Some common assignments on a LMS like matching definitions require the learner to drag and drop; yet, if a learner was forced to use a keyboard, how would they do it? Even if these interactions can be done with a keyboard, how is often obscured, so ensure that these assignments can be done with keyboard and how they are is clear.
People with learning disabilities may have trouble with the way content is presented to them. For example, someone with a learning disability may find it difficult to retain information if it is presented as a long block of text, but not difficult to retain that same information if its delivered by video.
Present The Same Information in Different Ways
Diversifying how the same information is delivered allows learners to determine what type of content works best for them and if using a LMS that has automatic reporting, like CoreAchieve, one could track what type of content is the most effective for each learner.
Use Clear, Precise Language
Avoiding technical terms and jargon throughout the course will ensure that learners don’t get caught up in details. These terms carry a lot of weight and can be off-putting especially whenever wrapped up in many other things to learn.
Around 50 million people are affected by epilepsy worldwide. These people are sensitive to flashing or flicking lights which can be very common in online learning. Those lights can trigger a seizure and potentially cause serious harm.
Avoid Flashing Lights
This might sound easy, but even things like a flashy animation could trigger a seizure. Flashing lights does not just mean cycling through colors very fast.
Make Text-Based Options
If there is a video with any possibility of causing a seizure, it should have a text counterpart that gives all the information of the video but without the lights or animation.
It Helps Us All
By including people with disabilities into the design and formation of the systems around us makes life easier for everyone. Take for example wheelchair ramps, necessary for people how are wheelchair bound but also very useful for people with canes, strollers, carts, or bad ankles. In this way, building wheelchair ramps affords an easier time to many others as well. It’s the same with eLearning.
If all videos are captioned, it wouldn’t matter if one didn’t have speakers or if content took many different forms people without learning disorders could choose their preferred style. By designing eLearning with disabilities in mind, learning is made easier for everyone.
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Photo by Anthony Ciancio on Unsplash