It is not an easy task to develop an e-learning course, which is Section 508 compliant and which adheres to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). You need to consider various design aspects, such as assessments and interactivities while creating an online course that can be accessed easily by all, including differently abled learners. Furthermore, different rapid authoring tools provide varying degrees of support to Sec. 508 and WCAG.
Let us see now some useful tips to develop an e-learning course that can be accessed seamlessly by all learners.
- Choosing Authoring Tool: Choose an e-learning authoring tool that has a feature to publish section 508 and WCAG 2.0 compliant, such as Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate, Lectora, and so on.
- Keyboard Accessible: Make sure the basic object, element and all the activities in the course are accessible using the keyboard. Don’t use the activity like drag-and-drop activity and mouse rollover because the keyboard is not meant for the visually impaired learners.
- Descriptive Alt Text: Add the descriptive alt text in the place of objects that will be read by the screen reader to covey the information. Do not use any punctuation.
- Objects Order: Order of the slide object should align properly from “left to right” and from “top to bottom”. You can also create your own player controls (like Submit and Next, button). You need to align the buttons at the bottom right of your slide, so that it will read by screen readers at last.
- GUI Navigation: The GUI navigation screen reader should not read every time. Users visually navigate through content. Screen readers will instruct the learner to press the Enter/Tab key if they want to skip the player navigation and return to the first object on the slide or if the learners want to advance to the next slide, then use some shortcut key like Enter, Spacebar or Right Arrow to advance the slide.
- Screen Reader: There are many screens readers to test accessible (JAWS, Zoom Text, Window-Eyes, NVDA), May be every screen reader and its version have some additional features. For example, JASW 14 vs JAWS 16 have some enhanced features. You can download the JAWS Screen Reader free demo fully functional version for 40 minutes and then you need to reboot your computer before using it again.
Things to consider while testing the JAWS Screen Reader.
- Test JAWS in Internet Explorer
- Use only keyboard keys for testing the course in IE using JAWS.
- Make sure the Num Lock key is on the off position while testing the course.
- Do not use the mouse during the testing.
- Use the required size of browser window.
- Color Contrast Analyzers: Color Contrast Analyses tools help in calculating the foreground and background color combinations to determine the legibility of text and the contrast of visual elements visibility. It’s easy to identify the pass/failcolor contrast success criteria. Text and images of text has a contrast ratio minimum of at least 4.5:1. You can download the free plugins by clicking here.
Now that you have gained some knowledge, you should be able to develop accessible courses. Hope you find these basic tips helpful to create your first accessible course (508 and WCAG compliance).
Please do share your views on this subject.
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