Accessible e-Learning

Accessible e-Learning

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Nowadays, everyone is interested in e-learning. From MOOCs to paid online courses, there are many e-learning offers so that learners have a variety of choices. The main question is: are those online courses accessible to everyone? The answer is yes and no. There are few organizations that provide online courses for all types of learners, including learners with disabilities. Others are still working on it.

This article will give tips on how to design a more accessible course for everyone. In 1998, the US Federal Government adopted Section 508 in order to remove barriers in information technology, including e-learning, and make it accessible to all people. However, most of the courses designed in Flash or with authoring tools such as Articulate and Captivate, are hard to meet the requirements of section 508. With the evolution of e-learning, we can now design courses with simulations, quizzes, games, etc. Here’s how to design a correct accessible e-learning for everyone:

Tips and Tricks for Designing Accessible e-Learning Courses

1. Consider the font size (built into most modern browsers) for those who may need to see text at a larger size.

2. Animation, audio and video can be used in an e-learning course if you provide the transcription or closed captioning. Closed captioning and audio help deliver relevant learning experiences to deaf or hard hearing learners. In that way, you must provide them with the same set of skills development and knowledge base that other members of the target learning audience receive. This will allow them to achieve their learning goals without being excluded.

3. Using the Alt attribute to describe each image, which will allow students with visual impairments or blindness to understand what is conveyed through images and other visual objects embedded in a course.

4. Colors have a huge importance when designing an online course. So here’s a list of most used colors for accessible courses by Instructional Designers.

- White is seen as pure and clean. White space can be very powerful and help learners to stay focused. You should consider a white color font when a background is dark.

- Red is a stimulant and refers to intensity. It can be used to emphasize, any point that you want to draw the learner’s attention.

- Orange is an antidepressant and can be used as a stimulant too that is playful and enthusiastic.

- Yellow is another stimulant and promotes memory, optimism, and sometimes caution. Yellow can be used to highlight points that should be memorized or to grab the learner’s attention.

- Green is refreshing. It helps to relax, brings tranquility and peacefulness.

- Pink is usually seen as a color of playfulness and fun. You can use pink in courses to send positive message.

- Blue is used for serenity.

- Purple can be associated with other colors to emphasize its effect on the learner. It’s a nice color to use in games and activities.

- Black is most of the time a nice option for the bulk of text.

5. Make sure that explanations of links make sense when read out of context.

6. Make sure that your course is structured consistently.

7. Summarize graphs and charts where possible.

8. Avoid the drop down menu because it’s not accessible. The screen reader will interpret them as one object.

9. Another trick is to record the published course with a video editing tools such as Camtasia, following certain rules:

- Obviously, visually impaired individuals will not be able to do drag-and-drop or do matching exercises. Therefore, you will be recording all the clicking yourself so that people on the other end will be able to sit and watch the presentation.

- When you arrive at quiz questions, you will have to read the directions slowly, then the question, and finally all the options associated with it.

10. Anything not directly visible when the page loads will not be read by a screen reader.

11. A screen reader provides an oral version of the content of a user interface, and the blind or visually impaired user; usually via a keyboard rather than a mouse, to take the appropriate actions. However, there are some problems and frustrations that arise from using screen readers, and so it normally isn’t enough to simply integrate one without first doing some research into its functionality.

12. Blindness presents perhaps the most difficulties when it comes to an e-learner completing a task. For this reason, assistive technology in the form of a screen reader with a voice synthesizer needs to be implemented into a courseware to allow blind and visually impaired people to interact with the user interface.

13. Be aware of color contrast for those who are colorblind or have trouble determining different colors.

14. You should always give learners a considerable time to propose an answer to a quiz question. Once the reading option is over, pause and wait about a minute or so to allow learners to think about the answer. Then, read the correct response.

- Remember, because these learners selected their response mentally, you don’t really know what their selection was. Therefore, your feedback should not say “good job”, “sorry, or “that’s not the correct response.” Instead, you should simply state what the correct answer is and explain why this answer is correct.

- The corrective feedback is always different for an audience with disabilities. You may have to write a separate script and record additional voice-overs to fulfill the needs of the learners.

- Another option is to create the same feedback for every type of learner in order to save time.

15. In the end, running a recurrent accessibility testing for developed courses is a good way to save time during the design process.

Useful Links

1- // Section 508 2- // e-Learning Industry 3- // Producing High Quality eLearning Videos 4- // How to add an ALT TEXT in Storyline 5- // One of the best alternative of Adobe Color 6- // Popular Color Schemes for E-Learning Design