While you enjoy the learning experience from an amazing e-learning module by swiping across your screen and enjoying solving challenges, there are certain groups of learners who may not be able to do and enjoy all this.
He/ she may not be able to see and experience the amazing animations or videos in the learning modules or cannot hear the voice-over narrations for the modules etc as they experience some form of disability.
According to the statistics, One billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability. This shouldn’t mean that the doors of learning should be shut to them. With the traditional learning moving to advanced ways of e-learning, it becomes a responsibility to make the e-learning modules equally accessible to them too
For this, the government across the world have various regulations and laws that speak about ensuring the accessibility to the electronic and information technology and one such very popular and strong law is section 508
It was in 1988, the government of America amended the rehabilitation act to include section 508.
The amendment announced that all the electronic and information technology developed, procured, or used by the federal government should be accessible to people with disabilities.
508 Compliance prohibits the disability-based discrimination and hence as you see today, there have been considerable improvements in making all the electronic and information technology developed, procured, or used by the federal government accessible to the people with disabilities too.
To read more about section 508. You can visit the blog here.
Here in this blog, let us understand how to make e-learning 508 compliant.
1.Simplify the course structure
It is highly recommended to make the course structure simple and consistent across the modules. Enable the same layouts across the module and use consistent color schemes.
Keep the course contents uncluttered and not simply stuffed with a lot of textual and multimedia contents.
Ensure that the screen reader is able to read the contents on the screen in the right order.
2.Enable navigation through keyboard
Navigating through the e-learning modules should be less cluttered and easy for the user.
For learners with certain disabilities, they may find difficult to navigate through the mouse or other handheld devices, in such conditions keyboards are their only means of navigating through the course. Here you can use and design the “Tab” key to serve the purpose
While some developers also prefer ‘space bar’ for the same purpose. Ensure that all the functions can be accessed equally with the keyboard.
3.Close caption animations and videos
Animation and video can be used in your 508 compliant eLearning course if you provide the text equivalent or closed captioning. Video files are recommended to have synchronized captions.
This enables the screen reader to read out to the learners and make them understand what are the images about.
While most color blind learners can see clearly, they find it challenging to discern text and images that feature red, green, or blue. Keep the backgrounds simple and don’t use a contrast of colors which can make the textual contents less visible.
5.Include text transcripts
Narration and voice overs are part of the learning modules, To make your learning modules compliant of section 508, the developers can include text transcript for audio files. Text transcripts make audio information accessible to people who are deaf or have some problems in hearing. At the same time narrations can also help the visualy impaired learners.
6.Include charts and graphs
An e-learning module with charts and graphs are now popularly used in representing facts and figures, you can convert your learning modules to section 508 compliant by summarizing the charts and graphs with voice narrations. Hence it is recommended to make proper labels for all the data so that the screen readers can pick it up.
7. Consider font sizing
Consider font sizing for those who may need to see text at a larger size. Give users the options to change the size of the fonts. While most of the modern browsers have got the in-built option, I recommend taking a little extra effort in making their moments easier.
Be mindful of color contrast for those who are colorblind or have trouble determining different colors.
I feel that rule and regulations like section 508 are very much needed to ensure the accessibility of the learning contents by every person. With technologies evolving at a rapid pace, we might see innovations that can help people with disabilities to learn more easily.
Let this thought always remain in our mind
Gaining knowledge is the first step to wisdom
Sharing it is the first step to humanity………… unknown