How to add accessible interactive elements to your e-learning courses to improve learning quality

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Interactivity is a transformative element when it comes to e-learning. Adding interactivity turns training into an altogether more engaging experience, encouraging greater levels of student participation.

Including these elements in an e-learning course has become easy to do – even intuitive – thanks to the availability of various authoring tools designed for the job. However, things get more complicated when these courses need to be accessible, in addition to being interactive. In fact, the perceived difficulty of the process is so great that it has given rise to a false belief – that making interactive e-learning courses truly accessible is impossible.

This is because most authoring tools currently available on the market do not actually comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), and even if they do, they require a high level of effort on the part of the content creator. For this reason, many businesses choose to forget about interactivity when putting together accessible e-learning courses.

The benefits of creating an interactive and accessible learning experience

If we want to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in our company, we simply cannot disregard accessibility. But interactivity is just as important. If we drop it, we also lose its numerous benefits. Below, we take a closer look at some of those benefits:

  • Interactivity in e-learning helps students to better contextualize the information they take in, maximizing their memorization, critical thinking and creativity.
  • Resources such as videos, exercises or animated infographics also allow students to assimilate abstract or complex concepts more effectively.
  • Interactives make content more visual and attractive, ensuring that it captures student attention and maintains it over time.
  • Thanks to interactivity, students have the chance to actively participate in learning, enhancing their ability to resolve conflicts and promoting their self-development.

The key accessible interactive elements and how to configure them

Below, you’ll find a list of key interactives, as well as the basic problems and criteria associated with each. You’ll need to be aware of these when integrating them into your accessible e-learning courses:

1. Basic elements

These include elements like images, cards or links, which help complement and contextualize the information being absorbed. In an accessible course, any images that are more than simply decorative, and contain important information, must be accompanied by alternative texts which allow students with visual problems to understand them.

In addition, it is also crucial to fully reveal the content of interactives such as flip-cards and galleries, so that all users can locate and access the information they contain. Files for download, on the other hand, must be fully accessible through links that give information about the type of document in question.

2. Multimedia elements

Just as with images, audio and video elements must be accompanied by alternative content that allows students using assistive technology to access the information. For example, videos should be accompanied by subtitles, transcripts and audio descriptions. It’s also important to prevent them from playing automatically, as well as give students control over playback through a keyboard.

3. Advanced interactives

Some of the most notable include:

  • ‘Hot spots’ or points of interest: interactives that allow you to click on important elements of an image to reveal extra information.
  • Infographics and graphs: visual representations of complex statistics and data. These offer a more dynamic user experience and allow you to offer complex information in a friendlier way.

The greatest difficulty when using this type of interactive element in an accessible course lies in interpreting the visual information they contain. This problem can be alleviated by adding a brief textual description of the visual figure, as well as providing quick and direct access to any data featured within them.

4. Exercices

Along with games, these tend to be amongst the most attractive elements for students, since they encourage maximum participation. Here are some of the most popular:

  • ABC: A question and answer exercise in which the student has to choose the correct option from a set of possibilities..
  • Group: Exercises that test the student’s knowledge by asking them to group objects or concepts into their corresponding categories.
  • Match: In this exercise the student must connect matching concepts from one group to another.
  • Sort: A list of answers is shown that the student needs to rearrange in the correct order.
  • Complete: An exercise that requires students to fill in the blank spaces in a text, using drop-down menus with multiple options.

Including exercises in your accessible e-learning training is more demanding, requiring you to redesign the whole user experience. You’ll need to include alternatives to complex drag & drop interactions, proper focus management for students using keyboard navigation, and alternative text for images. You’ll also need to provide clear instructions to ensure that students understand how to interact correctly with all of these elements. Finally, feedback cannot be provided based on color-coding alone, i.e. red for wrong, green for correct. You’ll need to offer an alternative such as an explanatory message.

Along with exercises, some authoring tools also allow you to include games in your e-learning courses, further boosting engagement and the effectiveness of your training.

Create accessible and interactive e-learning courses with isEazy Author

As you can see, it is possible to create both interactive and accessible e-learning courses. All you need to do is meet the criteria included in the WCAG when setting up your accessible interactive elements. To simplify this task, look for an authoring tool that allows you to easily create an accessible version of them.

isEazy Author not only solves most of the problems associated with creating accessible content, but also automates them, making the whole process easier. Effortlessly adapt color, contrast and fonts, implement automatic focus management, or transform the entire user experience into an accessible one. The tool also offers continuous assistance to the editor, providing helpful tips to make the accessible content creation process a breeze. The result? Your e-learning courses will comply with all the latest accessibility standards and regulations, without any extra effort.

Sara De la Torre


Sara De la Torre

Content Marketing Manager at isEazy

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