Accessible ELearning – Developing Section 508 Compliant ELearning Courses

Accessibility is a central aspect of eLearning. What can eLearning designers do to ensure that their courses are accessible? Here are some recommendations:

1.   Provide an equivalent text alternative to all information provided in visual format. This can be easily done by adding the alt text attribute to all images.

2.   Make sure that the content offered in an interactive format is also available in accessible format. Obviously, learners with hearing and visual impairments cannot fully benefit from multimedia based eLearning courses. Therefore, it is necessary to provide a text transcript that describes the interactions and supplements the visual information. Another option is to create a Camtasia presentation for all the multimedia interactions. To learn more about using Camtasia for making e-Learning more compliant, read my blog post about Creating Section 508 Compliant E-Learning solutions (http://bit.ly/1hGrX4T)

3.   Make sure that the information is well structured and divided into manageable chunks. Whenever possible, create bulleted lists and charts to help the screen reader pick up all the content.

4.   Make sure that all the content in color is also available without color. This is very important for learners who are colorblind. If for some reason, certain information must be in color, consider using text or other distinguishing marks.

5.   Make sure that your text is large enough and that the content is not animated and nothing is flashing on the screen.  Learners with dyslexia or attention deficit disorder may have a hard time reading small or flickering text.

6.   Make sure that all the content is accessible with a keyboard. Learners must be able to tab through the screen without having to use their mouse.

7.   Create accessible course menu that will always be available to the learner. This is important as it allows learners who are blind easily navigate through the sections of the course.

While it is not always possible, instead of developing one interactive and one accessible version, instructional designers should strive to create one version of each course.

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