What is accessible e-learning?
Whether you are new to e-learning or have been developing online training for years, you might not know what to say when asked if your modules are accessible. After all, your modules are available on the internet and therefore accessible, right? In reality, it's a bit more complicated than that.
In e-learning, the term accessible means that the content is designed for all learners, including those with hearing, visual, mobility or learning difficulties.
To better understand what this means, let's take a look at a typical online learning experience.
A typical e-learning experience
Imagine this situation: our learner, Anne, is sitting at her desk in front of her computer. Using her mouse, she connects to the company's online training platform (or LMS) and selects the e-learning module she needs. She turns up the volume on her speakers and listens to the narrator speak, as images scroll across the screen. Moments later, the module asks a series of questions about the images she saw on the screen. Anne uses her mouse to click, drag and drop and send her responses.
What I have just described is a fairly classic e-learning experience involving everyday activities. But are these activities accessible to all learners? Let's see how Anne's experience could be different if she had a disability.
Another kind of e-learning experience
Say, for example, Anne has hearing loss. What would their experience be like following this module? Think about it. The module contains audio narration. How will Anne have access to this information? Are there subtitles or a script panel? Otherwise, Anne will simply see the images on the screen and not hear the accompanying audio.
Now imagine that Anne is visually impaired. The module contains information, images, navigation controls and on-screen exercises. Can Anne use a screen reader to navigate the course? Do the images have alt text so their screen reader can describe them? The module also offers a drag and drop activity. Will Anne be able to complete this activity if she cannot see the items on the screen?
These are just a few examples of how physical issues can impact access to an e-learning module. To create truly accessible e-learning modules, you will need to answer all of these questions and more. Accessibility is a huge topic and can also cause you to wonder about things like font size, colors, and how modules work on mobile.
To ensure equal access to online content for all users, accessibility standards have been developed for the web. These are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) , web content accessibility guidelines. In France, you can also draw inspiration from the General Accessibility Reference for Administrations (RGAA) to find out more about accessibility.
I hope this article has been helpful to you in your beginnings in creating accessible e-learning modules. If you have specific accessibility questions, feel free to post them below. And be sure to follow us on Twitter and subscribe to the blog for more e-learning tips and tricks.