Making Learning Accessible Part Four: How do I make my content accessible?

In the last post, we discussed how to make sure the software you use is accessible. Now we’re on to the final step that puts the power back into the hands of the user.

How do I make my content accessible?

After a whole lot of years in learning management, this is a question that comes up a lot. You’ve been mandated by your department, dean, HR team, etc to make your content accessible to users. Assuming you have an idea of what that means, where do you start?

The first thing I often recommend once we get over the hurdle of defining the what and why of accessibility is to run an accessibility scan. Find out where you stand with your existing content.

One note: Remember that if your content is behind a login, for instance a course in a learning management system, the free scanners may be not able to access your content.

Use the results of the scan to see where updates need to happen. If you follow this list of tips from UC Berkeley you can knock out some of the most common problems around headers, graphics, and tables.

Don’t have a course yet? That’s ok, let’s think about the sort of content that you need. This could include videos, graphics, text, uploaded documents, slideshows, and content that you create in the content or learning management system like quizzes, polls, surveys, and assignments.

The goal is to always have multiple methods of sharing information. Have a great graphic that shows an important process? Write a text caption to go with it.

That video with great narration? Provide a copy of the transcript. I am a hearing person, but I love having transcripts when I need to refer back to a video or if I want to access content but am not in a space where playing the audio would be welcomed.

What If I’m ready to go further?

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a leader in Accessible Technology and has a great website filled with advice and tutorials to take your knowledge even further, ranging from creating accessible PDFs to avoiding interactions that require mouse movements.

They also host community of practice meetings regularly to discuss accessibility issues. While theirs might not be the right place for you, seek out communities of practice, whether they are specific to the content management software you use, the development language, your region, or any other niche that makes sense for you so that we can inform and practice more inclusive design and development together.

Here’s my two cents, in shorter terms:

We all have to start somewhere.

  1. Find out where your software and content currently stand accessibility-wise.
  2. Set measurable, reasonable goals for your accessibility-friendly -focused development and/or seek out products that are designed with accessibility in mind.
  3. Develop your content for multiple modalities.
  4. Find communities of practice to share expertise.

 

 

Two decades in the software industy? I’ve learned a few things.

Hi, I’m Wes and I’ve been consulting on elearning solutions since 2009. Prior to getting into the online learning industry, I was a classroom software trainer, project manager, implementer, tech support rep and occasional developer when I was really feeling fancy. Or was at a client site with a broken solution to implement.

My goal is to share the knowledge I’ve gained from a whole lotta years in the software industry. Given that I started back in 1998, It’s been quite a journey! From helping the programmers fix potential Y2K problems in a COBOL payroll system to leading HR managers in developing their first SQL reports, I got off to a running start and have spent time in just about every department at a software company. (Except accounting. I got a C. Sorry Dad.)

My passion, as I’ve discovered over time, is in training. I’ve spent 20 years walking clients through support calls, managing project implementations, and seeing the points where we get stuck. I’ve got a feel for helping the end user get what they want, meeting a client’s needs, and pointing the companies I work with towards providing the best support we can, with a few bells and whistles thrown in to make it a really great learning experience.

So let’s take a journey together. We’ll use my experience to put your content out where it belongs, and have some great conversations on the way.