Learning accessibility is essential for organizations that aim to make inclusion one of their core values. Many companies, ranging from small to global, have a diversified workforce that often includes employees who need accessible e-learning courses.
However, designing accessible e-learning content is not always easy. Workers with visual or hearing impairments or certain learning disabilities should benefit from the same learning experience as the rest of the employees. All the while, L&D specialists need a robust and feature-rich platform, such as a learning management system (LMS), to create accessible e-learning courses. Discover the top six LMS features that can help you design inclusive training.
Why create accessible e-learning courses?
Accessible e-learning courses prove your care for all your current and future employees and your commitment to building a truly inclusive organization.
Accommodating everyone in your organization
One in four US adults lives with a disability. After mobility problems, hearing and vision disabilities are some of the most common disability types. Diverse needs can hinder employees’ attempt to complete their training at the same pace as their colleagues, even if it is readily available online. Your e-learning courses should offer the same skills development opportunities to all employees, from the course format to the fonts and theme you choose.
Complying with accessibility laws
Web accessibility is required in some cases to comply with the law. Under the revised Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, all information on federal government websites and those of recipients of federal assistance must be accessible.
Furthermore, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment. This act was also updated to incorporate web accessibility. As a result, employers are required to provide accessible training.
To learn more about how to make your online training more suited for everyone, WCAG 2.0 sets the standard for web content accessibility at a global level and provides recommendations on creating accessible e-learning courses for web pages and web applications.
Equal training opportunities
Compliance and the ethical dimension of inclusion are not the only reasons why online learning should be accessible to anyone in your organization. Providing equal training opportunities ensures all employees learn the skills and information they need to perform their jobs well, benefiting the whole organization.
The LMS features you need to create accessible e-learning courses for employees
Inclusive online training requires you to create content everyone can access and understand. Here are six main features you should look for in an LMS that enables learning accessibility.
1. Video format
An accessible e-learning course should have different formats so that employees can choose the one that best suits their preferences and capabilities. Some learners with disabilities might find it hard and tiring to focus on long-form written content such as e-books.
These learners can benefit instead from video content. Your LMS should allow you to record or upload videos easily. A reliable LMS will allow you to add various video files and even record video or audio content straight from your browser. You could insert videos between chunks of text to explain what is written or at the end or opt for this content exclusively.
Videos should also contain subtitles or transcripts to ensure accessible e-learning courses for individuals with hearing disabilities. Adding captions to your videos helps everyone grasp the key information.
Moreover, how-to videos that teach users how to use the LMS and a learner helpdesk can ease navigation for all employees, including those with disabilities.
2. Screen reader support
Audio content is also an essential element of accessible e-learning courses, and your LMS should allow you to upload audio files easily. You can create an audio version of your entire training course or its takeaways. This way, learners who can’t follow written content can listen to the learning material.
Screen readers are particularly important when designing accessible e-learning courses. These features are incorporated into various online platforms nowadays. They enable visually-impaired people to access the content they can’t read. Screen readers such as VoiceOver, JAWS and NWDA work as assistive technology that reads the text displayed on the page out loud. Moreover, learning platforms can integrate with many tools employees are probably already familiar with, such as Immersive Reader.
When you create courses, the screen reader function should be embedded and easy to access with a single click of a button. This way, people with disabilities can also follow your online training by listening instead of reading.
3. Keyboard accessibility
Mobility problems are among the most common types of disabilities. According to statistics, seven million adults in the US have physical functioning problems that make it hard for some employees to use certain devices, such as a mouse.
LMS keyboard accessibility allows learners to access content using their keyboard instead of relying on a mouse to scroll down or drag and drop elements. For some of them, using the Enter key is easier than double-clicking. You should consider this when designing accessible e-learning courses. Keyboard navigation can also enable learners to use different shortcuts to perform actions on the screen for ease of access.
For example, your LMS should have skip-to-content shortcuts so learners can easily access the main content area without repetitive navigation actions when using a keyboard or screen reader. Of course, ARIA landmark regions such as navigation, search and content information are also important while creating accessible online courses.
4. Flexible editor
Written content is still essential for any learning material you create for employees, even when it works in conjunction with training videos. Your LMS should provide a flexible course editor that allows you to customize this content.
Different fonts and colors are key to making your content easy to read and follow for these learners, and so are zoom-in functions that allow learners to increase the texts and images until they get a clear understanding of the content.
You should also be able to add alt text to your images using your LMS course editor. This type of text description enables all users to understand the content and message of your visuals.
Moreover, to make your text more readable, you should split it into paragraphs to avoid large chunks of text. Choose fonts that are easy to understand and background options that don’t make it hard to distinguish the letters.
5. High-contrast themes
LMSs usually offer a variety of themes to help you build appealing courses for an effective online learning experience. Contrast is not only important for aesthetical reasons. It is also key to making your content more readable. If you choose high-contrast themes, people with vision problems will find it easier to distinguish the words from the background. This is also true for making links easily distinguishable from other text, preferably by having underlined links.
Some LMSs allow learners to choose their own theme and include pre-set high-contrast ones designed for accessibility, so they don’t have to worry about creating their own.
6. Other accessibility and inclusion features
Learners should have instant access to their training material from any device they find convenient. Therefore, you should use a platform that offers the same learning experience on desktops and mobile devices. Here are other accessibility-related features a learning platform should include:
- Course enrollment should be made easy with one touch of the screen or a single click. Some LMSs allow you to do this via email invitations that include course links and automatically log learners into the platform once they click on the links.
- Assessments should also be easy to take and submit. Automated quizzes, where the learner must simply choose the correct answer and press next to move on, are more accessible than traditional tests that require writing.
- All learners should have instant access to their results and learning goals in a single, intuitive dashboard where all these items are featured in separate tabs that are easy to spot and access. A clearly visible menu icon displayed within easy reach can also facilitate navigation for all users.
- Drip content can also help you provide learners with disabilities with the most suitable training. This feature enables you to schedule learners’ access to modules instead of making all the content available at once, which might be overwhelming, especially for people with learning disabilities.
Moreover, intelligent learning platforms further support trainees by offering them custom content recommendations tailored to their references, previous actions, and goals. People with disabilities can benefit from these to get quick access to those types of resources that are most suited to their preferences.
E-learning courses make it easier for employees to engage in training, but only if you use an LMS with features that accommodate their needs, such as screen reader compatibility and high-contrast themes. The CYPHER LEARNING intelligent learning platform for Businesses enables companies to create accessible training that helps organizations stay compliant and inclusive. Schedule a demo today to learn more.