Importance: Employees with disabilities have better retention rates, reducing the high cost of turnover, says a 2002 U.S. study. Other American surveys reveal that after one year of employment, the retention rate of persons with disabilities is 85 percent. (Unger, 2002)
According to ILO (International Labor Organization), 1 in every 10 persons in the world has some disability. This figure is expected to increase along with growth in population all over the world. These disabilities include:
- Difficulty walking/climbing stairs
- Requires assistance of others with everyday tasks
- Vision difficulty
- Hearing difficulty
In most of the organizations (including private & government), employees include people who are deaf, color blind, visually impaired, or having limited mobility. With regard to training, organizations are looking for accessibility-enabled elearning courses to train all their employees.
Standards: There are quite a number of standards, where each country has her own laws. As far as the United States is concerned, all the e-learning courses should comply with Section 508.
One more standard is WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), which is developed by the world wide web consortium (W3C) international community where the staff and public work together to develop web standards.
The main difference between these two standards is that Section 508 is part of the U.S. law, whereas the WCAG is only a set of guidelines.
Click here to see the list of accessibility standards followed by 11 countries.
Best Authoring Tools for Accessibility: Almost every authoring tool complies with accessibility standards independently.
Below are the three top authoring tools, which enable us to create accessibility content:
- Articulate Storyline
- Adobe Captivate
- Trivantis Lectora
Each tool fulfills accessibility standards in its own way in creating e-learning; a few of them are listed below:
- ALT Tags or Text Alternatives – Media elements like images and audio narration in each slide should have alternative text that describes about it.
- TAB Order – Each object in a slide should be in such a way that they are identified by the screen reader and read in the given order so that visually challenged people could understand and learn the content by just clicking on the TAB button.
- Captioning – All animated objects (both video and audio) on screen need synchronized caption content. This is useful for both the hearing impaired and visually challenged persons.
- SKIP Navigation – GUI buttons like Menu, Resources, Glossary, and Exit buttons commonly appear on each screen and are identified by screen readers. So in order to avoid all redundancy of these navigation buttons we need to add Skip navigation button to the eLearning course.
In order to test the WCAG guidelines or Section 508-enabled e-learning course, multiple screen reader software (like JAWS, Microsoft Screen Magnifier, NVDA Access, etc.,) are available in the market.
As accessibility e-learning is in vogue now, it’s time for training managers to consider the importance of accessibility for their e-learning courses to reach out to all their employees’ training needs, including those with disabilities.