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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. Your learner could have a visual impairment, a motor disability, speak English as a second language, or have some kind of temporary issue like a broken arm that restricts them from using a mouse. Whilst there is a tendency to think of eLearning accessibility purely in terms of screen-reader compatibility, the number of different requirements could be as large as your audience itself. Whilst you may not be in a position to anticipate every single one of those needs, with Evolve as your authoring tool, there are a number of built-in features you can take advantage of when creating courses that can ensure an inclusive experience for your learners.

Why should we care?

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 circumstances. Imagine the frustration of a learner who can’t access the learning that their employer requires them to take. How would you feel if you were excluded from a valuable experience that all your colleagues had access to? Making a course accessible to as wide an audience as possible is not only a moral choice but a practical and necessary step - and with some thought and practice, easily achievable in Evolve.

In many countries, there is also a legal imperative to create accessible content. In the UK, regulations came into force in 2018 which state that all public sector websites or mobile apps must meet accessibility standards (based on the WCAG 2.2 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 2.2?

WCAG 2.2 is a set of 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, and single A is the least. Most elearning content that is designed to be accessible conforms to double AA. The guidelines are several 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: this is about 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: this is about being able 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 is about making content readable and understandable, and allowing users to correct mistakes when filling in forms online, etc.

Robust: this concerns making content robust enough to work with assistive technologies, such as (but not limited to) screen readers.

The full guidelines run to nearly 100 individual standards, and are written in language that is quite technical in places. There are several guides online to make the standards easier to understand, and we have made our own that covers what each point means for your Evolve content.

It should be noted, these standards were designed for web content, and not specifically eLearning, and 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.