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6 must-have LMS compliance features for building accessible e-learning courses

6 must-have LMS compliance features for building accessible e-learning courses

Accessible e-learning is essential for organizations that prioritize inclusion as a core value. Many companies around the world have a diversified workforce, often including employees who need compliant, accessible training content.

Furthermore, federal mandates and regulations, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), require employers to design accessible options for employees who may need specific accommodations. While every situation is unique and subject to its own legal ramifications, it’s evident that the modern workplace must move toward digital accommodations.

How can you accomplish this when it comes to designing accessible e-learning content? L&D specialists need a robust and feature-rich platform, such as a learning management system (LMS), to create highly accessible e-learning courses for all employees.

In this post, we’ll walk through six LMS features that can help you improve the inclusivity of your training process.

Why should companies create accessible e-learning and training courses?

Accessible e-learning speaks volumes about the culture of a company. For instance, workers who have visual limitations, hearing impairments, or learning disabilities deserve to benefit from the same learning experience as the rest of the employees. According to Pew Research’s 2023 workforce report, “half of workers say it’s extremely or very important to them to work somewhere that is accessible for people with physical disabilities.”

Showing care for current and future employees also showcases a company’s commitment to building a truly inclusive organization in the long run. Therefore, ensuring that your training or professional development courses are accessible is never just about legal requirements—instead, it’s about establishing a more holistic, supportive work environment.

To accommodate everyone in your organization fairly

According to CDC data, nearly one in four US adults lives with a disability. Mobility, hearing, and vision-related disabilities are common disability types, but others may not be evident on the surface. Disabilities may hinder some employees’ ability to complete traditional training at the same pace as their colleagues, even if that training is available online or digitally.

As a result, your latest e-learning courses must offer the same skills development opportunities to all employees. This includes the format of your course, how it appears visually, and how employees are evaluated post-completion.

To comply with applicable accessibility laws

In some cases, web accessibility-related features are required 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. (Disclaimer: please verify your company’s exact situation with your legal team, as we cannot provide personalized legal advice.)

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-based accessibility practices. As a result, employers are now required to provide accessible training even if they deliver that training on a digital, web-based platform.

To learn more about how to make your online training more suited for everyone, you can explore the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), or WCAG 2.0. These guidelines determine the standard for web content accessibility internationally, while providing practical recommendations for e-learning courses, web pages, and business web applications.

To ensure equal training opportunities

Providing equal training opportunities ensures that all employees learn the skills and information they need to perform their jobs well. No matter what an employee’s background may be, an objective opportunity to excel in the workplace is essential. At the end of the day, fair and objective training opportunities create more positive opportunities for the company as a whole.

How does CYPHER prioritize accessibility and compliance?

CYPHER’s modern learning platform fully prioritizes inclusivity and accessibility for all users, across numerous industries and use cases. In fact, CYPHER adheres to the WCAG 2.1 Level AA standards, ensuring a barrier-free digital experience for instructors and users alike.

Here are just a few of the ways you can enjoy an accessibility-friendly experience with CYPHER:

  • Screen reader support
  • MS Immersive Reader
  • Voiceover capabilities
  • Ready-to-use accessibility themes
  • Light and dark mode
  • Calendar functionality that supports screen readers
  • Descriptive text
  • Intuitive search functionality

How CYPHER solves accessibility challenges

CYPHER’s built-in accessibility features are proactive—meaning that you can assist all types of learners succeed, even if you’re not yet sure which accessibility challenges they’re facing.

  • Features for cognitive and motor concerns. Learners who have already installed a screen reader like NVDA, JAWS, or VoiceOver can explore and use CYPHER without missing a beat.  Our code is structured to include a skip-to-content button and semantically rich tags, making it easy to navigate with a keyboard and a screen reader.
  • Features for visual reading challenges. CYPHER AI 360 incorporates voiceover capabilities that transform micro courses into multisensory experiences. This boosts engagement and inclusivity and assists users who face visual reading impairments like dyslexia or ADHD.
  • Features for compliance. With CYPHER, you don’t have to worry about making huge changes to stay compliant with regulatory requirements. Our platform is web accessible and complies with internationally recognized initiatives like WCCC.

Want to learn more about how CYPHER improves training accessibility? Download our full accessibility features guide here.

The LMS features you need to create accessible e-learning courses for employees

Inclusive online training necessitates the creation of learning content that everyone can equally view, participate in, and understand. Here are six main features you should look for in an employee training platform that enables learning accessibility.

1. Video-based content and video formatting

Accessible e-learning courses must include (or be offered in) various formats so that employees can choose the one that best suits their preferences and capabilities. Some learners with disabilities might find it difficult to learn using long-form written content such as e-books or instructional manuals.

To accommodate these learners, offer video-based learning content instead. An accessible LMS is one that allows you to record or upload videos easily, with the ability to use various video files and editing features.

Accessible, compliance-ready videos should also contain subtitles or transcripts to ensure accommodation for hearing disabilities. Adding captions to your videos helps everyone grasp the key information.

As an added bonus, consider creating simple how-to videos that teach users how to use the LMS with a visual walk-through of the platform. A video-based learner helpdesk (featuring short video tutorials) can help all employees troubleshoot, regardless of disability status.

2. Screen reader support

Audio content is also an essential element with truly accessible e-learning courses. This means that you should choose an LMS that allows you to upload audio files easily, while syncing them to matching text-based lessons. Learners who aren’t able to follow written content verbatim can listen to learning material in a way that helps them retain more information.

Screen readers are particularly important when designing accessible e-learning courses, and such features are often incorporated into various online platforms. This helps visually impaired people access the content they can’t read. Screen readers like VoiceOver, JAWS, and NWDA work as assistive technology that reads the text displayed on the page out loud.

When you create courses, the screen reader function should be embedded and easy to find. This way, employees with certain disabilities can also follow your online training by listening instead of reading, and do so in a way that respects their privacy.

3. Keyboard accessibility

Up to seven million adults in the US have physical functioning problems that make it more challenging for them to use certain workplace tech, including a computer mouse.

LMS keyboard accessibility lets learners access content using simple keyboard commands, instead of relying on a mouse to scroll down or drag and drop elements. Keyboard navigation can also help learners to use shortcuts to perform actions on the screen for ease and speed.

Look for a learning delivery platform that offers skip-to-content shortcuts so learners can easily access the main content area without repetitive manual actions. Of course, ARIA landmark regions such as navigation, search, and content information are also important while creating accessible online courses.

4. Flexible content editor

Even when working with training videos, written content remains essential for any learning material you create for employees. A suitable, accessible LMS is one that provides a flexible course editor, allowing more ability to customize this content and change it based on the needs of your learners or audience.

Different fonts and colors are key to making your content easy to read and follow. Additionally, zoom-in functions that allow learners to increase the texts and images until they get a clear read on the content. Adding alt text to your images (text-based descriptions positioned under an image) gives further clarity to any visuals or graphics that appear throughout your content.

To make your training text more legible, split lengthy sections into chunks. Choose fonts that are easy to understand and background options that don’t make it hard to distinguish the letters. Gamification also splits content into achievable levels so that learners have natural pauses, allowing for better breaks and engagement.

5. High-contrast themes

LMSs usually offer a variety of themes for building appealing courses in an immersive online learning experience. 

cypher-accessibility

Contrast is not only important for aesthetic reasons. It is also key to making your content more readable for users who require extra visual support. Choosing high-contrast themes makes it easier for people with vision problems to distinguish the words from the background. This is also true for making links easily distinguishable from other text, preferably by having underlined links.

6. Other important accessibility and inclusion features

Modern learners often expect instant access to their training material across devices. Therefore, it’s helpful to use a platform that offers the same learning experience on in-office desktops, laptops, or mobile devices. Here are a few more accessibility-related features that any well-rounded learning platform might include.

  • New course enrollment – This should be an easy, one-click process. Explore how to use email invitations that include automated course links and logins. This eliminates the need to search through multiple websites to get to the learning portal.
  • Assessments – These should also be easy to take and submit. Automated online quizzes are often more accessible than traditional tests that require writing.
  • Instant access – All learners should have easy and quick visibility to accomplishments and learning goals. A single, intuitive user dashboard (with obvious icons or navigation) makes course milestones easier to find and access.
  • Drip content – Slowly releasing new content can also help provide learners with disabilities a more suitable learning environment. This feature lets instructors schedule access to modules over time, instead of making all the content available at once. Drop content eliminates overwhelming and accommodates more learning styles.

Moreover, intelligent learning platforms further support trainees by offering them custom content recommendations tailored to personalized skills, previous actions, and new goals. In fact, personalization can greatly assist your company’s other accessibility priorities.

Accessibility challenges and modern solutions

Despite huge advancements in accessible online learning for teams and employees, there are still challenges to address.

One of the biggest challenges involves complexity—in terms of LMS navigation, controls, and customizations. Because extraneous features might be confusing even to the average learner, it's important to find an LMS that prioritizes user experience, while making it easy to experience genuine human interactions. CYPHER accomplishes this by:

  • Dividing content into user-friendly course modules
  • Creating clear navigational and skills paths that make the journey easier to follow
  • Improving and enhancing reading ease (to benefit learners with dyslexia and dysgraphia)

Because organizations often have multiple trainers who contribute to e-learning processes, discrepancies are bound to pop up. Having a single, foolproof learning delivery platform is crucial for establishing one consistent experience throughout the organization or team.

Future-forward LMS trends

The e-learning and employee training industry is constantly evolving. To remain competitive, new e-learning initiatives must remain accessible, compliant, and effective. That’s the case even when incorporating AI-powered adaptability into learning modules and skills paths.

When considering learning trends, AI is set to be a powerful force in processes related to language processing, text translation, image recognition, and content creation. Unfortunately, unleashing AI-powered features throughout a training program without considering the impacts on accessibility can be damaging and risky.

The solution? Bringing on a trusted training and content delivery partner that has industry-leading experience in AI-powered training features. For example, CYPHER’s AI 360 with CYPHER Copilot allows teams to build courses more quickly, while adding accessible content and audio voice-overs that easily cater to all learning styles.

Bringing it all together

Creating accessible e-learning courses and employee training programs isn’t just about checking off a to-list item. By equipping your training team with the best LMS features, and by paying attention to the difficulties your learners face, you can better ensure that your e-learning is powerfully accessible to everyone.

An accessible approach not only shields your organization from known liabilities, but it also unlocks the full potential of your workforce by giving everyone the tools they need to succeed—both now and in the future. Start building a more capable and cohesive team that's ready to take your organization or business to the next level of growth.

Schedule your CYPHER demo today to learn more about accessible training practices.vi bonus, consider creating simple how-to videos that teach users how to use the LMS with a visual walk-through of the platform. A video-based learner helpdesk (featuring short video tutorials) can help all employees troubleshoot, regardless of disability status.

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