Five Tips for Implementing Accessibility into your eLearning

When you are creating an eLearning course, do you consider all of your user’s and their individual needs? Creating an eLearning course that aligns with accessibility standards can involve knowledge and time, so it is very useful to know how to tackle it.
When we received our first course that had accessibility requirements, I am not going to lie, we didn’t achieve it with a click of the fingers, it took time. We spent days researching the accessibility standards and scheduled in time to discuss them as a team. Whilst it was time-consuming, it was important to us that we gained an accurate understanding of what was required and in the end, we did. We also received a great appreciation for the process, as we came to realise the importance of implementing it and the positive impacts it can have on our end user. With the knowledge that we now have I want to share some tips with you to make your life easier when you are faced with creating a course that requires accessibility standards.  
To give you an overview of the intent of accessibility and why it is important, I want you to imagine you are the user in the below scenarios.
A) You are visually impaired. You are tasked to complete an eLearning module that has no audio and the content is depicted through images and small text.
B) You are hearing impaired. You are tasked to complete an eLearning module that is depicted solely through audio narration.
Neither of these sound like a valuable learning experience, do they?
So, how can you create eLearning content that meets accessibility standards and in turn meets the needs of a variety of end users?
Here are our tips that we trust will support you in achieving accessibility in your eLearning module.
1. Check the Required ‘Level’ of Accessibility and Follow the Formal Checklist
The level of accessibility required for an eLearning module can significantly impact how you create and structure your content. If you know what the accessibility standard is for your module, find the official checklist and ensure that you meet each of the requirements listed.
For example, for our last project we were required to develop a module that met AA standards from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) (Web Accessibility Initiative, 2017). If you visit the link below you can view what is required for each of the standards of the WCAG. Ensure that you go through each section and check that your module will meet the necessary requirements for the level of accessibility required.
2. Create a Template that Meets Accessibility Requirements
Rather than completing a whole module and then going back to implement accessibility throughout, do this from the beginning through the design of your initial template.
By creating a template that meets accessibility standards you can be sure that whoever is developing the module will abide by the standards and you will avoid having to change the design of the module at the final stages of development.  
For example, imagine that your next and back button did not meet accessibility standards. Now imagine having to update these buttons on multiple screens. Or… imagine that the colours that were matched for your design did not meet accessibility requirements and therefore you are faced with adjusting colours on every screen. Not fun right? It is far more time effective to create an accessible template to provide consistency and a path to follow from the beginning.
3. Search your Development Platform and Accessibility Tips
At Belvista Studios we use Storyline as our primary development software. After spending some time reading through accessibility standards, I had a thought (and I am so happy that I did) and decided to search ‘accessibility standards’ and ‘Storyline’ in my browser. This was super helpful. There were multiple forums discussing how people had achieved accessibility with the software and I even found a checklist that I could use.  
This means that you don’t need to figure out how to navigate and create accessibility using your software. This could involve searching around and spending time figuring out how your development software can specifically achieve the accessibility standards. The tips may tell you exactly what options you need to click to enable accessibility and may also provide you with information on elements of accessibility that are inbuilt into the software.
Sharing is caring, so if you use Storyline, check out their accessibility tip page that we use here: https://articulate.com/support/article/Storyline-360-How-to-Design-an-Accessible-Course
4. Personalise your Learner’s Experience from the Beginning
A great way to let your learners with impairments know that they will be accommodated for is by providing accessibility instructions at the beginning of your module (Articulate, 2017). Let your learner know what accessibility you have implemented within the module so that they feel comfortable that they will have a positive user experience.
Articulate suggests that you can ask users if they will require alternatives for some content due to visual, hearing or mobility impairments. You can then store their answer in a variable and use it to branch them to slides tailored to their needs (Articulate, 2017).
5. Colour and Accessibility Standards
Working to design an eLearning template where the colours meet accessibility requirements is an opportunity for different designs that you have not created before to shine through.
We were recently working on a new look and feel design for a client and found this great website that demonstrated what colours you could use and how they looked together. Finding this resource made our lives a lot easier as we no longer have to spend significant amounts of time checking if colours matched in regards to accessibility.
90 Combinations Resource:  http://clrs.cc/a11y/ (MRMRS, 2018).
90 Combinations colour matching resource for accessibility (MRMRS, 2018). 
That is all for this blog on creating an accessible eLearning module. It is important to note that accessibility contains a significant amount of adjustments and intricacies, this is just a snapshot of what works for us. We would love to hear the projects that you have worked on that have met accessibility standards. What worked for you and how did it impact your final product?
An integral part of design for us is putting our end user at the heart of what we do and accessibility is a great example of this. Your users will love you for it and by implementing accessibility you can create a course that is suitable for a variety of users, that will be engaged with your module regardless of their specific requirements.
References
Articulate. (2017). Storyline 360: How to Design an Accessible Course. Retrieved from https://articulate.com/support/article/Storyline-360-How-to-Design-an-Accessible-Course  
MRMRS. (2018). Colours A11Y Stats 90 Combinations (Version 2.2.0). Retrieved from http://clrs.cc/a11y/ 
Web Accessibility Initiative. (2017). How to Meet WCAG 2.0 (Version 2.5). Retrieved from https://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG20/quickref/ 


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