What is accessible eLearning?
Accessible eLearning refers to the design and development of online educational content and platforms that can be accessed and used by individuals with disabilities. It aims to remove barriers and provide equal opportunities for all learners, ensuring that people with diverse abilities can engage in eLearning without limitations. Accessible eLearning takes into consideration various disabilities, including visual, auditory, physical, and cognitive impairments., as well as learning difficulties such as dyslexia and dyspraxia.
Why is accessibility important?
There are an estimated 3.8 million people with a disability in the UK workforce today. However, it is likely this number if higher because many people with disabilities such as colour blindness or dyslexia do not always declare their disability out of a fear of discrimination. Accessibility is crucial in eLearning because it ensures that individuals with disabilities or diverse needs can fully participate in online educational activities.
Companies that demonstrate inclusivity in their learning are likely to outperform in every aspect of their business - from their reputation and employee wellbeing to their sales and bottom line.
The four principles of accessibility
Current Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) recommend that eLearning content should be:
- Perceivable - information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive
- Operable - user interface components and navigation must work with input methods other than a mouse or track pad
- Understandable - information and the operation of the user interface must be clear and concise
- Robust - content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of assistive technologies
Examples of accessible eLearning
Text Alternatives and Descriptions
One key aspect of accessible eLearning is providing text alternatives for non-text content such as images, diagrams, and videos. This ensures that learners with visual impairments can access the content through screen readers or Braille displays. Additionally, providing descriptive text or audio descriptions for visual content enhances the learning experience for individuals with low vision.
Colour Contrast and Visual Design
Ensuring sufficient colour contrast between text and background is essential for learners with visual impairments or colour blindness. Well-designed accessible eLearning platforms use high contrast colours, clear typography, and proper formatting to make content easily readable for all learners.
Designing eLearning platforms and applications that are keyboard accessible is crucial for individuals with physical disabilities who may not be able to use a mouse or other pointing devices. Keyboard navigation allows users to navigate through the content, interact with elements, and complete activities using only the keyboard.
Clear and Simple Language
Using plain and concise language in educational materials benefits learners with cognitive impairments, learning disabilities, or those whose first language is not the language of instruction. Avoiding complex jargon, providing clear instructions, and organising content in a logical manner help improve comprehension for all learners.
Captions and Transcripts
Including closed captions or subtitles in videos allows individuals with hearing impairments to follow along with the audio content. Transcripts, which are textual representations of audio or video content, provide an alternative way for learners to access information, making it accessible to deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals as well as those who prefer reading over listening.
Assistive Technology Compatibility
The Accessible eLearning platforms are compatible with assistive technologies such as screen readers, screen magnifiers, voice recognition software, and alternative input devices. By ensuring compatibility, individuals with disabilities can seamlessly integrate these tools into their learning experience, enabling them to access and interact with the content effectively.
The Accessible eLearning is a vital component of inclusive education in the digital age. By implementing accessible design principles and considering the diverse needs of learners with disabilities, online educational content and platforms can provide an inclusive learning experience for all. The examples provided above illustrate how various accessibility features and considerations can be incorporated into eLearning to remove barriers and ensure equal access to training and professional development.
At Reinvigoration we prioritise accessibility, ensuring that no learner is left behind. We work with our clients to agree the accessibility requirements of the organisation and design all our content with these in mind to ensure all our online learning solutions are widely inclusive and provide an equitable learning environment.
Here are some of the default accessibility standards embedded into our eLearning design practice at Reinvigoration:
- Voiceover supporting the text on screen
- Text alternatives for images
- Closed captions and transcripts where applicable
- Keyboard shortcuts
- Accessible text and zoom options
- Adjustable playback speed for media
- Keeping up to date with WCAG guidelines and learning technologies to further improve accessibility features