It is absolutely no exaggeration to say that elearning has caused extraordinary changes in education. Today, no matter where people are, regardless of economic status, and regardless of their backgrounds people can become educated on a wide variety of topics. In spite of this, there is one area where many elearning programs falls short. Accessibility remains a point of concern. Whether a potential student is disabled, or simply limited to a mobile device, not all courses are designed in a way that works for them. The following seven tips can help you make your courses useful to all of your students.
Use H1 and H2 Tags to Organize Your Content
Screen readers are used by the visually impaired to consume website content. They rely on your use of header tags to determine how your course content is organized. You can ensure these work correctly by sticking to correct use and order of tags. For example, always use the H1 tag for the title of each page. Never skip tags either. If you Use H1 and H3, but bypass H2 screen readers may assume that content is looking. Finally, avoid using headers for presentation. Use CSS instead as a means to make your content look good.
Use Captioning or Subtitles
Videos are a great way to present learning content to visual learners, and to further drive concepts home. Unfortunately, they aren’t very helpful to the hearing impaired without captioning or subtitles. Be sure to add these to video content when you create courses.
By adding subtitles you can also help those with auditory processing disorders. Other students may benefit as well as you are having them engage multiple senses as they consume your content. Using more than one senses improves recall.
Include Alt Text For Relevant Images
This is another way for you to help screen readers understand your content and present them to visually impaired students. Screen readers will use the Alt Text on your images to describe them to users. Be sure that text is accurate and represents the image.
On the other hand, Alt Text can be potentially confusing. For example, if you have inserted images purely for cosmetic purposes, leave off any alt tags. This will cause most screen readers to simply ignore those images.
Include Accessibility in Your Testing
Creating and executing comprehensive test plans should be part of developing any elearning course. Unfortunately when designing test cases, many people forget to consider accessibility. The truth is, this should be a part of any QA process. Here are some questions to ask yourself when you are testing:
- How easy is it for someone with limited mobility to navigate this course?
- Will someone using a screen reader or magnifier have a difficult time?
- Is my content truly mobile friendly?
- Have I taken into consideration students with various learning disorders?
If you have the advantage of knowing who your students are, consider reaching out to them. If any have special needs you can customize your course to be as accommodating as possible.
Be Careful When Selecting Colors
This is where things can get a bit tricky. There are several forms of color blindness that can make it difficult for people to discern differences in colors. This is problematic because others benefit greatly by use of color to distinguish content and keep things organized in their minds.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do. First, learn about the most common types of color blindness. Then, avoid using color combinations that are most troublesome. Once you’ve done that, feel free to use color. However, consider adding other visual elements to separate and organize your content into logical chunks. These might include lines or asterisks.
Microlearning is one of many very effective learning techniques for the disabled. It involves breaking concepts down into small chunks. These are more easily consumed and retained than learning content that is presented in large units or chapters. Students can learn at their own pace without being overwhelmed.
Not only is this technique helpful to students who may have a learning or intellectual disability, it helps all students to learn better. This is an especially helpful technique for self-paced courses as well.
Structure Text So it is Mobile Friendly
Keep in mind that not all students have the ability to access a desktop or laptop. Many may rely on their mobile devices for a variety of reasons. Because of this, ensuring that content is mobile friendly is more important than ever. Follow the rules of mobile design by writing shorter paragraphs, using bullet points and numbered lists, and leaving plenty of white space.
There are so many reasons that accessibility must be a consideration in elearning design. First and foremost, all students deserve the right to get the most out of their educational pursuits. In addition to this, there are regulations that employers and schools must comply with in this area. Failing to provide accessible educational materal can put you at risk. Finally, by prioritizing accessibility you may be surprised at how your educational content improves for all of your students.
Independant inbound marketing consultant with 5+ years in the industry, including coaching and developing e-learning courses. Bylines at the Huffington Post, Tech Cocktail, Hackerspace by Lifehacker among others.