eLearning Should Mean Accessibility for All

 In Articles, Education

Asian woman studying online

eLearning Popularity Is Growing

In recent years, eLearning has become increasingly popular. It’s a convenient way to reach many people on a variety of subject matters. Whether your eLearning is for internal audiences, (onboarding, HR, or compliance, for example), or your online courses are more “traditional” in nature, the content, with attached PDFs, must be accessible to all users, including those with disabilities.

Over the years, companies, as well as several colleges and universities with eLearning programs, have been sued for their inaccessible digital websites, courses and training materials. Aside from it being the law according to the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as Section 508, one might ask, why wouldn’t you want your eLearning courses to be accessible for everyone? Shouldn’t that be a given? Sadly, what can seem so obvious is often ignored or completely overlooked.

Your Audience Is Broader than You Think

When you begin creating your eLearning class, it’s natural to gear the program to whom you think your audience is. But your audience isn’t monolithic. They don’t all look the same, they’re not the same age, and chances are your audience contains people with varying disabilities. Imagine that you have people who are very interested in taking one of your online classes, but when they go to register, because of a visual disability, they can’t complete the form. Consider someone using assistive technology for help in reading your document, but if the document isn’t tagged, or tagged properly, assistive technology won’t be able to read the document or read it correctly. Or, perhaps they have a cognitive disability that takes them longer to navigate your content, and then they’re suddenly timed out. Certainly, these potential users will be disappointed, and that disappointment can turn into legal risk for you. And frankly, who can blame them?

eLearning Tips to Accessibility

Luckily, with some forethought, disappointment and lawsuits don’t have to become reality. It’s much easier, and it’ll save you time and money, if you design your eLearning programs with accessibility in mind from the very beginning, rather than trying to rework them after they’re done. With that in mind, here are some guidelines to follow when creating your digital documents:

  • laptop screen with page layoutMake sure your font size is large enough for those who might have vision problems and be sure to consider color contrast for people who are colorblind or have a hard time seeing different colors.
  • Use alternative text to describe images.
  • Provide captioning and transcripts of audio as well as descriptions of any video.
  • When you use links, provide good alternative text, and make sure that people can tell where that link is going to take them just by looking at the link itself.
  • Tag your content so that assistive technology can read and properly navigate your material.
  • Stay away from using tables as a way of formatting content on a page. If you use charts, summarize their content and tag them properly.
  • Your content should be able to be navigated, read, and used without using a mouse.
  • Test, test, test. Use a screen reader to test your content. If there is someone with a disability where you work, ask them to test/navigate your eLearning program. Get their feedback and put it to use.

Accessible eLearning Benefits Accrue

Enhances Your Brand’s Reputation

Earlier, we asked the question, “Why wouldn’t you want your eLearning courses to be accessible to everyone?” When creating eLearning programs and content for your employees, in addition to accessibility being the law, accessibility says something about your culture. If employees with any kind of disability don’t have to ask for anything special, it makes them feel included. It says that you care about all your employees—current and future.

Accessibility also sends a very positive external message to users of your eLearning programs. It tells them that you are an organization that takes inclusion seriously, that you don’t take them for granted, and that you value accessibility and inclusion for all.

Improves Your Overall eLearning Program

When you make your eLearning programs accessible, you are designing for a variety of needs. This is bound to make your programs more user-friendly for everyone.

Increases Your Market Share

Obviously when you make your program accessible to more people, more people can take your courses. That can only be a plus.

eLearning Is the Present and the Future

eLearning will only continue to grow and it will grow in ways we probably can’t even imagine. Why not get on board now and grow with it? If you have questions about creating accessible documents for an eLearning program, CommonLook can help. We have the software, services, and training that can help you design, test, or remediate your documents and can be reached at commonlook.com.