Implementing accessibility in our learning modules ought not be a binary choice between testing with screen readers and doing nothing. Designing learning experiences for a range of functional abilities extends our effectiveness. Let’s avoid the trap of enabling accessibility features only when a client has employees who are blind.
Global Accessibility Awareness Day is Thursday, May 18, 2017. I encourage you and your organisations to mark this day in some manner. How can you participate? As implied in the day’s name, work to increase your own awareness, the awareness of your coworkers and of your clients. Below are some ideas that quickly come to mind. I’m sure that you’ll have ideas to add to the list.
- about the range and degree of disabilities that can be encountered even before a screen reader is needed
- about WCAG from its source (https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/) and from the many supplementary resources on the internet
- about the assistive technologies built into common devices (and try them out!)
- how your course authoring tools implement accessibility (Adapt: https://github.com/adaptlearning/adapt_framework/wiki/Accessibility)
- how to enable Adapt’s accessibility feature so that learners can access it
- how to include ARIA in the bespoke plug-ins you develop
- how to write content for alt tags that are useful and not merely filler
- how to assess readability of fonts and color contrast
- how to use software tools to review and test your implementation of accessibility
- to implementing a level of accessibility even if the client doesn’t ask (rare as a unicorn is the client who returns after project’s end to request it implement accessibility)
- to designing learning experiences with inclusion in mind
- accessibility features to clients as a proactive measure and as a way to improve the “shelf-life” of a course
- Adapt courses as an easy way to give learners the choice of device (and assistive technologies) that works best for them.