We can all agree that the last two years have been challenging for everyone. For some the biggest test was the adjustment to working from home. Although people can now return to the office, many companies have decided to keep their staff working remotely. Now that spare bedroom (or shed) became the office, it also doubles as a classroom. Elearning was always an option, a but with the Pandemic it became more important – and it continues to be popular. Yet, it does come with some problems of its own. There are around 3.8 million people, working in the UK with a disability, how can we go about make sure that eLearning is accessible for them?
For learners with visual impairments, e.g., blindness (from partial to complete sight-loss), various forms of colour-blindness, photo-sensitive epilepsy – eLearning can be a big challenge, and in turn can present the biggest challenge when designing the course. Visually impaired learners will rely on screen readers to navigate them through a course; the technology translates what is on the screen back to the user either through speech or braille. Think about how your course can be translated through a screen reader: the use of headings; descriptions needed for images; deliver the information in the form of graphs or tables – remembering to provide a description of the graph. Keep in mind that screen readers are not compatible with a mouse and rely on keyboard commands, therefore it is best to avoid using drop down menus in your course. Colours can be visually appealing and striking, however, for those that have colour-blindness, this can be confusing and difficult to understand. Try using similar hues of the same colour which will be easier to differentiate. Or consider abandoning colour altogether and use symbols.
For learners with hearing impairments, it is all about the visual. Make sure that any videos are captioned or signed and that a transcript is available. When using captions or subtitles for any videos, be aware that information can be missed, as the learner will be trying to watch and read at the same time. If sign language is being used, be aware of where your audience lives – there are differences between British (BSL) and American (ASL) sign language.
It is not only individuals with hearing or visual impairments. In terms of how you design your course, think about this can affect those who are dyslexic. The fonts that you use and the colours that you pick can have make a significant difference. For any text, stick to using simple fonts e.g., arial, comic sans, and ensure that it is no smaller than 12pt. Avoid using any italics or underlining of words. Consider the use of colour– it is not only an issue for the colourblind. Stick with one colour for backgrounds and avoid using any patterns. Stick to dark text on a light-coloured background, and avoid coloured text (particularly reds, greens and their various shades).
The words that you use can have an impact. Avoid using words like ‘click’ as there may be people that cannot use a mouse function and rely on their keyboard; using the word ‘select’ will be more appropriate. Words such as ‘see’ or anything that describes a visual element, such as colours are best avoided. Instead, try to ensure that all language being used in your course is inclusive. For advice or more information on how to make your eLearning courses more accessible, get in touch with us.