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Best practices for designing accessible e-learning content

  • Nikita KV 
Close up of laptop with inscription on screen e-learning and image of square academic cap and smartphone on table in empty room.

Incorporating e-Learning tools into your new hire training program can be an excellent way to
make it easier to share essential information with your new team members, but it is important to
make sure this content aligns with accessibility standards to ensure that you are not
inadvertently hindering your learners. Here is an overview of what accessibility standards are,
steps you can take to design e-Learning content that creates an accessible learning
environment, and how you can create quality e-Learning content for learners of every ability!

Understanding Accessibility Standards

Quality e-Learning content requires compliance with certain accessibility standards that make it
accessible to as many learners as possible. There are several best practices that can help your
business create more accessible content, many of which are specifically addressed by the ADA.
The ADA divides accessibility standards into three distinct categories that are based on the
amount of accessibility they provide, which are known as A, AA, and AAA. A accessibility
provides the minimum accommodations that are needed for your e-Learning content to qualify
as ADA-compliant, while AAA content is the most accessible and has the most difficult
standards to meet.

Designing Accessible e-Learning Content

Designing e-Learning content that meets accessibility standards and works well for your
learners of every ability is not always easy, but it is a crucial step in creating a welcoming and
inclusive environment that works well for everyone. Your industry may include certain complex
concepts that make incorporating additional types of accessibility necessary, but many common
accessibility standards can be applied to any industry. Here are some of the most important
elements to include when designing accessible e-Learning content for your new employees,
students, or other learners of any ability!

Use Clear and Concise Language

Many industries contain complex technical terms that are essential for your new employees to
understand, but this does not mean it is appropriate to make your e-Learning content as difficult
to understand as possible. Instead, taking steps to make sure your content is concise enough to
be understood by the average new team member and contains any additional details it may
need to clarify more complex terms for employees that may need it is an important step in
making your content accessible to as many people as possible. Understanding the difference
between essential technical terms and writing your entire content using an unnecessarily high
reading level is a must when it comes to choosing language that is accessible to your learners.

Use Alternative Text for Images and Other Media

Images, graphs, charts, and other types of visual content can be helpful tools for showing
content in another way for the majority of your learners, but they can make your e-Learning
content less accessible for learners with limited vision. For this reason, it can be helpful to
accompany these images with text that explains what they are and how they relate to your
written content to make sure that these learners can get as much out of them as possible.
Including these descriptions in your recorded or Braille versions of your main text is also an
important step in making them accessible to learners with any level of vision.

Use Color Contrast Properly

Poor color contrast can be another problem for learners with limited vision. Your foreground and
background colors should be different enough that they are easy to distinguish between,
including for readers with less ability to distinguish between colors than average. You should
generally aim for a ratio of at least 4.5:1 between your foreground and background colors to
ensure that your text can be read by as many learners as possible. Although this is easy to do
when using typical color choices, such as black text on a white background, it is important to
use caution when adding colors and other details in an attempt to make your content more
interesting because having too much going on can be difficult for some learners to see clearly.

Provide Audio Options

Making your content as easy to read and see clearly as possible is an important step in making
it accessible to a wide range of learners, but it is also important to provide audio alternatives
whenever possible. Recording audiobook versions of ebooks or articles, making sure that
appropriate settings are available for videos and other audio content that are included in your
content, adding audio descriptions of images, and otherwise incorporating audio material into
your e-Learning content can be beneficial for both learners that cannot see at all and those that
are unable to read on a screen for a long period of time.

It can also be helpful to include options for speeding up or slowing down audio content as
needed to make it comfortable for all your learners to listen to. While many average learners like
having the option to speed up audio or video content to consume material faster and move on to
learning more, listeners with certain types of disabilities may take the opposite approach and
learn better when they have the option to slow this type of content down and spend more time
listening to each section.

Ensure Keyboard Accessibility

Any computers or other devices your business provides for your e-Learners to use need to be
equipped with adequate keyboard accessibility to ensure that they can be used by as many
learners as possible. These web accessibility guidelines apply to both training content for new
employees and devices that your employees use throughout the course of their time at your
company. Keyboard accessibility provides assistance for users that rely on the use of a
keyboard and are unable to use a mouse, scroll, or accomplish other basic computer functions
as a result of a particular physical disability. This essential accessibility tool allows users to use
a regular or modified keyboard to perform these functions using only a keyboard.

Include Transcripts of Video Content

Videos provide a strong balance of visual and audio content for many learners, but some are
unable to concentrate on videos well enough to absorb information, distinguish between
speakers when listening to a video, or otherwise get the most out of this type of content. For this
reason, including a written transcript of video content can make it easier for learners to focus,
skim material quickly, or go back and review specific sections. While this is often particularly
helpful for learners with certain types of disabilities, these benefits also make it a good option for
making it easier for average learners to consume video content faster or differently if watching
videos is not their preferred method of learning.

Accommodate Diverse Learner Needs

Although it may take a bit of extra effort to make sure your e-Learning content meets
accessibility standards, it is an essential step in making sure that all of your learners can benefit
from your content regardless of disabilities or learning differences. In addition to legal
requirements to make your content accessible to everyone at your business and provide
reasonable accommodations whenever possible, ensuring that learners with special needs can
access your content without having to ask is an important step in making sure they feel
welcome and appreciated at your company.

Ensuring Multimedia Accessibility and Accommodating Learner Needs

Staying on top of the most recent best practices for making sure that your multimedia content
aligns with current accessibility standards and choosing a program that includes as many of
these options as built-in features as possible are some of the most important steps you can take
to help you create content that accommodates a wide range of learner needs.

Best Practices for Ensuring Multimedia Content Is Accessible

Making sure that your multimedia content is accessible to as many learners as possible invovles
following certain best practices that blend accessibility options with minimizing distractions or
unnecessary features that may make consuming and understanding content more difficult for
learners with certain special needs. Some of these best practices include:
● Including alt text when adding images or other visual material to your content
● Minimizing the use of emojis or other images that are less relevant
● Adding subtitles or closed captions to videos
● Using images that include people with various abilities
● Making sure visual and audio content are as accessible as possible

Choose a Program That Addresses Multimedia Accessibility

Getting multimedia accessibility right is not always easy, but starting with an accessibility
program can be a helpful step in including as many elements as possible. Some of our most
important built-in accessibility features include customizable color schemes that allow your
learners to adjust colors to best meet their needs, a strong keyboard navigation program that
makes it possible for learners to perform a wide range of tasks using only their keyboards, and
streamlined support for a wide range of screen readers and other accessibility tools and
devices. These tools make it possible for learners with a wide range of challenges using
traditional e-Learning methods to learn in ways that work best for them and improve their
access to a wide range of types of material.

Choose Us for Quality Accessible Multimedia Content

No matter what types of content you are interested in creating to share with your new hires,
students, or other learners, chances are some of your learners will require certain modifications
to learn effectively, and a robust LMS with accessibility features like YesLMS can make it easy
for you to provide a wide range of the most common accessibility tools in one place.