This article defines accessibility and how you can leverage Evolve to create accessible content for a diverse audience.
What is accessibility?
Accessibility, in the context of eLearning content, refers to the opportunity for every learner to have the same learning experience, regardless of their circumstances. Individual learners’ needs can cover a huge range of different requirements.
Why is accessibility important?
Creating an eLearning course can be a lengthy process that takes a lot of thought and labor. You want your learning objectives to be understood by every learner who accesses the course, regardless of their personal circumstances. Imagine the frustration of a learner who can’t access the learning that their employer requires them to take.
Making a course accessible to as wide an audience as possible is a practical and necessary step; with some thought and practice, it is easily achievable in Evolve.
In many countries, there is also a legal imperative to create accessible content. In the UK, for example, regulations came into force in 2018 which states that all public sector websites or mobile apps must meet accessibility standards (based on the WCAG 2.1 accessibility standard, explained below) and publish an accessibility statement online.
In the US, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires federal agencies to make their technology, websites, and online learning accessible to everyone. Many other countries have some sort of equivalent disability legislation.
What is WCAG 2.1?
WCAG 2.1 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) are a set of formal guidelines for creating accessible web content. It was created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which is the main international standards organization for the internet. It has three levels of conformance - single A, double A, and triple A. Triple A is the most demanding level, with single A being the least.
Most eLearning content that is designed to be accessible conforms to double AA. The guidelines are a number of individual points that come under four broad categories: Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, and Robust. Let’s look at some basic definitions of what these mean:
Perceivable: When online content being presented in such a way that the audience can perceive it, no matter what their needs. The simplest example of this would be providing text content for any non-text item, e.g. subtitles on a piece of video.
Operable: The ability to navigate online content in alternative ways, for example solely by using a keyboard without the aid of a mouse (more details on this specifically later in this document).
Understandable: This refers to making content readable and understandable, and allowing users to correct mistakes when filling in forms online, etc.
Robust: This involves making content robust enough to work with assistive technologies, such as (but not limited to) screen readers.
The full guidelines include nearly 100 individual standards and are written in language that can be quite technical. There are a number of guides online to make the standards easier to understand, and we have made our own also that covers what each point means for your Evolve content, which is included in the Accessibility: WCAG 2.1 and Evolve path.
It should be noted that these standards were designed for web content, and not specifically for eLearning. As such, parts of them may not be relevant to your course creation. With Evolve as your authoring tool, you can easily make a course that conforms to all aspects of single A and double A, as well as many triple A points.
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