9 Tips To Develop Accessible eLearning

9 Tips To Develop Accessible eLearning
Summary: In a dream world, everyone has access to learning; in the real world, online learning has been accessible to all only recently. In this article, I’ll share everything you need to know about accessible eLearning as well as the accessible eLearning benefits and 9 tips on how to develop accessible eLearning content, so that you cannot only reach a broader eLearning audience, but also do your little part in enabling more individuals to achieve their personal or professional goals while learning in a comfortable eLearning environment.

What Is Accessible eLearning

In 1998 the US Federal Government enacted Section 508 to eliminate barriers in information technology, including eLearning, and make it accessible to all people. This is exactly what accessible eLearning is about; providing all learners with equal access to online content in order to support not only individual learning, but also corporate training and especially compliance training. As you might guess, accessible eLearning is an issue of utmost importance for learners. Education is a fundamental human right, and ensuring equal access to online learning for all, from people with disabilities and the aging population to learners for whom English is a second language, is a very big deal.

3 Accessible eLearning Benefits

Interestingly, your online learners are not the only ones who benefit from accessible eLearning; there are great advantages for you too, whether you are an eLearning professionals, an Instructional Designer, or an online instructor:

  1. It reaches more people.
    This goes without saying: The easier is the access to your eLearning courses, the wider is the audience you can reach.
  2. It increases the effectiveness of your eLearning course.
    To ensure accessible eLearning standards you need to address a variety of learning needs, which means that your eLearning courses meet more learning preferences. This significantly improves your eLearning content as you provide your audience with alternative ways to facilitate the learning process.
  3. It adds value to your organization’s brand.
    Creating accessible online training programs and accessible materials does not only accommodate your online training program to employees with disabilities, but also demonstrates that your company is interested in expressing both social sensitivity and social responsibility.

It is obvious by now that developing accessible eLearning products is definitely worth the effort.

Top 9 Tips To Develop Accessible eLearning Content

Meeting accessibility would also signify adjustments of the learning goals accordingly. Keeping the following tips in mind will significantly help you create and develop accessible eLearning:

  1. Get prepared.
    Before you begin, study Section 508 guidelines carefully and learn everything you need to know about the requirements for developing accessible eLearning. It would also be a good idea to familiarize yourself with assistive technology software and hardware solutions.
  2. Use audio and video effectively. 
    To accommodate both hearing and visually impaired learners, you should also provide text scripts for your audio, though for your video elements, closed captioning should also be provided.
  3. Utilize color.
    The effective use of color in eLearning has always been a tricky business. To make the best out of it, avoid unnecessary usage, and make sure that you’re employing the appropriate chromatic contrasts for your color-blind learners.
  4. Pay attention to fonts. 
    Same goes for fonts; color fonts are hard to read. You also need to make sure that your font styles, spacing, and alignment are appropriate, and the font size readable, especially in the case of infographics; make sure that learners do not need to zoom in, in order to read them. Finally, always use a standard formatting style for all your headings.
  5. Be stingy with complex interactions. 
    While eLearning interactivity is a great way to engage your learners, you should try to avoid complex interactions when developing accessible eLearning material. Learners with poor motor skills will not appreciate, for instance, intense drag and drop interactions, so you need to find alternative ways to design your interactive elements, making them as simple as possible.
  6. Provide a simple navigation system.
    Effective navigation for accessible eLearning means easy navigation. Think “less is more”: Drop-down menus may be confusing, so try to be concise with your navigation icons and descriptions. Use HTML tags, as screen readers can easily identify them, and make sure that your labels, sitemap, search, and help buttons are visible on every page.
  7. Avoid Flash.
    Most web developers have been avoiding Flash for years now, and you should not be the exception. Especially for accessible eLearning, HTML5 is the ideal option; it is fast, search engine friendly, and suitable for all mobile devices.
  8. Keep your language simple.
    Keeping a simple language in eLearning is a good practice in general; simple language helps you to avoid misunderstandings and to reach more learners of whom English is not their mother tongue. Apart from having the general rules in mind, for example avoiding language that is negative or fosters stereotypes, you should also eliminate informal expressions, jargon, and acronyms. Use simple and direct wording, and keep your sentences as short as possible.
  9. Be sensitive.
    This might come as a surprise: Creating two versions of your eLearning course, accessible eLearning for disabled people, and a full version for everyone else is not a sign of flexibility; it is rather a sign of inconsideration or even lack of tact. Creating two versions automatically discriminates people who may need help; this is offensive, as no one wants to be provided with “simplified” methods and tools. In practice, an excellent accessible eLearning course is as effective as an excellent eLearning course in general. Keep the above tips in mind and offer the best eLearning practices to all of your learners.

Now that you know how to create accessible eLearning, you may be interested in learning a few things about divergent thinking as a problem solving approach. Read the article Divergent Thinking In eLearning: What eLearning Professionals Should Know and discover how to use this powerful tool in your eLearning course design.