Complete guide to create accessible content with isEazy Author

In the e-learning world, accessibility is fundamental to guarantee inclusion and make sure that all the students have access to educational content. However, beyond guaranteeing equal development opportunities, companies that adopt accessible e-learning solutions favor talent retention, improve the organization’s brand image and reputation, as well as its competitive advantage in the market. Despite this, only 20% of current online programs are accessible.

In this guide, you will find the best tips to easily create interactive and accessible learning experiences that will encourage the development and engagement of all the members of your organization.

1. Key accessibility principles: what to consider when developing accessible e-learning in your company

Accessibility can ensure that all learners have access to e-learning courses and do not miss out on a complete learning experience. However, to start creating an accessible training plan you need to take into account a number of key considerations or principles:

Know the accessibility pre-requisites and regulations

The starting point to create accessible e-learning content is to understand the current accessibility standards. Particularly, you need to understand the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These are a set of technical standards that are divided into 78 criteria and three different levels of conformance, these depend on the WCAG success criteria that are met:

  • Level A

This is the bare minimum conformance level to meet accessible content requirements. This level includes 30 criteria that include providing text alternatives for non-text content (videos and images), captions in pre-recorded video files, or keyboard navigation for all functionalities.

  • Level AA

This is the mid-range conformance level, which covers the basic A level, and it includes 30 additional success criteria. It refers to aspects such as the use of audio descriptions for videos, minimum text contrast to facilitate reading or zooming in to enlarge the content.

  • Level AAA

This is the highest level of conformance, which brings together the 78 existing success criteria. It includes aspects such as the use of sign language videos for audio multimedia, or the definition of unusual words by suitable methods such as adjacent texts.

Other than the 78 accessibility success criteria, we must be aware of their constant updates. Currently the WGAG 2.2, which includes new accessibility criteria, is the one being used. Moreover, we need to consider that worldwide, there are different accessibility regulations that require public and private sector organizations to create accessible digital content. Among others, these include Section 508 of the United States Workforce Rehabilitation Act (29 USC 794d), or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which affect both the public sector and universities, as well as companies that offer public services.

Having the appropriate e-learning tools

Beyond knowing the current regulations, the process of creating accessible and inclusive learning experiences is not an easy task. Many organizations choose to outsource the creation of their accessible courses through external providers and matter experts in the field, although this involves a higher cost and production time.

The most affordable solution for the creation of accessible content by organizations is undoubtedly the use of in-house authoring tools. However, not all authoring tools are the same. While most of them require extensive knowledge in accessibility, programming, coding and design, others allow the creation of accessible courses in a more agile and intuitive way. This is the case of isEazy Author.

2. Steps to create an accessible e-learning course with isEazyAuthor

This authoring tool can create courses that cover 100% of the WCAG AA success criteria and 80% of the AAA success criteria automatically without requiring an expert. Furthermore, you will not need to worry about color, typography, or interactive limitations. All elements are intelligently adapted to be accessible. Want to know more? Here’s how to create an accessible course step by step with isEazy Author.

Step 1: Configure your accessible project

The first thing you need to do is to activate the accessibility mode within your project. You can select a project from your list or start from scratch and create a new one. The important thing is that you select the accessible mode from the configuration options.

Just like in the non-accessible mode in isEazy Author, you can include a course image to identify the project in your project list. In the specific case of the classic courses, it can be used as the table of contents cover and header. Although the purpose of this image is purely decorative, our tool offers the option of adding an alternative text to make it accessible, this also applies to the ones within the course.

Step 2: Personlize your courses

Customizing your courses with colors, fonts, and your company logo gives them a unique personality. At isEazy Author, we make it easy for you to personalize these elements while adhering to accessibility guidelines:

  • In the case of images, for example when adding your company logo, you have the possibility to include alternative text.
  • When setting the background of your course in accessible mode, the background image will be displayed subtly, veiled, ensuring contrast and readability. Remember that in isEazy Author you can always check the final design in the course preview.
  • Regarding the color palette, isEazy Author automatically generates an accessible version of the colors used to meet the required contrast ratios for WCAG conformance. For the non-accessible version, you can choose the colors of your choice. The same goes for the fonts. isEazy Author will automatically modify them in the accessible version to meet the accessibility success criteria.

Step 3: Other considerations to bear in mind

  • Course language: Choose an available language from the drop-down menu. It is an important configuration for screen readers.
  • Navigation: You will only be able to select free navigation – courses can be taken in the order students want- in the accessible mode. To learn more, you can read this article.
  • Dual mode: Once you have published your courses, they will be available in dual mode, this means the user will be able to choose the version in which they want to take the course.

Step 4: Editing your course

Once you have configured your course, you can start adding content. To do so it is important that you consider the 4 basic principles of the WCAG guidelines to guarantee content accessibility to the largest number of users.

Accessibility principles

Step 5: Include accessible interactives and games

Adding interactive content to an online course is one of the keys to ensuring its effectiveness. Interactivity transforms learning into a more engaging experience, increasing learner motivation and facilitating knowledge retention. However, the difficulties that arise when creating interactive and accessible e-learning courses make many companies decide to go for one of the two versions to optimize time and costs of content production.

Although, to a certain extent, most of the authoring tools on the market offer the possibility of including this type of resource, they do not always have a sufficiently varied catalog of interactives. However, if we also need them to be accessible, the possibilities are even more limited. In most cases, content creators are forced to manually adapt these types of resources or, in the worst case, to do without them. To avoid this, look for an authoring tool that offers preconfigured and ready-to-use interactives and games in both versions.

Do you want to know which accessible interactive elements you can include in your training to make it more dynamic and effective? Here is a complete list of interactives and the basic issues and success criteria you should be aware of when using them in your accessible e-learning courses:

Basic elements

  • Images: Images are a very useful resource to complete and contextualize the information presented in the text. Showing them as a gallery can also help to explain more complex processes, such as a step-by-step, for example.
  • Cards: This is an interactive element with a multitude of pedagogical uses. You can put information on both sides so that the student can discover the content that is hidden behind by activating each of them.
  • Links: They are used to link your content to other external resources.
  • Downloads: This element allows you to add additional external content to your courses so that learners can download it. Such as guides, reports or PowerPoint presentations that are necessary for them to consult.

Problems with this type of elements:

People with blindness or visual impairment can’t enjoy the image resources. In addition, the use of interactive elements with information hidden behind an animation may make them difficult to consume through screen readers.

Accessible version:

Images with relevant content should be accompanied by an alternative text that will allow students who use assistive technology to access the information they represent. In addition, we should display the content in interactive elements such as cards and galleries so that all users can locate and access the information they contain. On the other hand, if we want to include files for downloading, the links should show relevant information about the type of document and be accessible.

Multimedia elements

  • Audio: Audio multimedia resources are perfect for transmitting relevant or complementary information in your e-learning courses. You can play with the content, adding podcasts or interviews, to integrate different points of view that will facilitate the understanding of the training content.
  • Video: Videos are one of the most valued resources by learners. They offer your audience a greater amount of information in a more dynamic format that facilitates storytelling. If the video is also interactive, it will help to reinforce concepts and ideas by requiring the student’s participation.
  • Voice-over: Voice-overs can be very interesting to include in your training. For example, to introduce the content that will be covered during the course.

Problems with this type of elements:

When we create accessible courses, we should avoid elements that reproduce automatically. Moreover, in the case of audios or videos we need to take into consideration students with visual or auditive impairments.

Accessible version:

Just like images, audios or videos, should include alternative content that allow students to use assistive technology to access the relevant information. For example, videos should have subtitles, transcripts or audio transcripts. Furthermore, students should have keyboard navigation.

Advanced interactives

  • Points of interest: Points of interest or hot spots are interactive elements that let you highlight important parts of an image and offer complementary information with a single click.
  • Infographics and graphics: Infographics or graphics are visual representations of texts, data or complex graphics. They bring dynamism by representing data in a different way.

Problems with this type of elements:

The main problem with the use of this type of interactive in accessible e-learning courses lies in the difficulty in interpreting the visual information they contain.

Accessible version:

n this case, it will be necessary to include descriptive identification of the non-text content and provide quick and direct access to the data reflected in the graphs and infographics.

Exercises

  • ABC: ABC exercises are very useful resources. Through a series of questions, users will have to test their knowledge by selecting the correct answer from a series of options.
  • Grouping: Grouping exercises are self-training activities that help to reinforce learning. In them, the learner can test their knowledge by grouping concepts into their corresponding categories.
  • Matching: This interactive is used to connect concepts from one group to another. Students must click on a concept from the first group and then select another concept from the opposite group that they think is related.
  • Ordering: Ordering exercises are perfect for assimilating processes. The students will have a list of options that they will have to place in the order they consider correct.
  • Complete: In this exercise the student must complete the texts through dropdowns with different options

Problems with this type of elements:

Beyond including complex interactions and mouse actions – such as drag & drop interactions – these types of interactives often generate problems with the attention of the student and include elements with an insufficient size to interact with them. Moreover, when it is necessary for the learner to enlarge the text, they can lose their structure and even display poorly on the screen

Accessible version:

Including these types of resources in your accessible e-learning training involves redesigning the user experience. You will need to include alternatives to drag & drop interactions, such as a keyboard focus element for learners using keyboard navigation, alternative texts for images, and clear instructions to ensure that learners interact correctly with them. Also, don’t base feedback on color alone: use other means such as an explanatory message.

Along with exercises, we can also find that some authoring tools such as isEazy Author allow games to be included in e-learning courses. In this way, they use gamification dynamics to promote engagement and increase the effectiveness of the training. If you want to know more about this type of interactive and how to configure them in an accessible e-learning course, do not miss this post.

3. Why is it important to prioritize accessibility in your content? Benefits for the company

Designing accessible e-learning courses is beneficial for all professionals in an organization. Not only for people with disabilities, but also for those who do not have any disability; they will be able to use content and courses created for everyone. Creating accessible e-learning courses means creating courses for any type of person.

According to reports by Accenture and McKinsey, companies that are committed to diversity and inclusion practices are more profitable than their competitors. Specifically, according to the McKinsey report, companies with greater multiculturalism are 36% more likely to have above-average profitability. In parallel, corporations with greater gender diversity are 25% more likely.

However, the advantages for the company do not end there. Developing accessible training plans goes beyond economic benefits:

  • Stimulates employee creativity and innovation, as the entire workforce has access to training.
  • Eliminates social and cultural barriers. Any employee, regardless of his or her individual status, can access training.
  • Improves training results, as accessible e-learning solutions ensure a better understanding of the information.
  • It boosts talent retention. Accessibility means a greater ability to retain internal talent by encouraging continuous learning for all employees.
  • Promotes a more positive brand image. Organizations that are committed to diversity strategies have better social recognition, which reinforces the brand image.
  • It allows equal opportunities. Everyone can have access to training and, therefore, the same opportunities for development and improvement.

In conclusion, although developing accessible e-learning content can be a challenge for organizations, it is worth the effort. Moreover, it can be easily solved if you have the right authoring tool.

Specifically, isEazy Author guarantees the creation of accessible content that meets 100% of the criteria of level AA and 80% of level AAA of the WCAG guidelines, as well as Section 508 of the US Workforce Rehabilitation Act. Thanks to its powerful functionalities and its intuitive and agile interface, it is finally possible to create, in just a few minutes, an interactive online course and automatically generate the accessible version of the course. In this way, the learner can choose the mode he/she prefers at any time.

Want to know more about accessibility in isEazy Author? Click here to play!

Nicole Bayer
CONTENT CREATED BY:
Nicole Bayer
Content Marketing Specialist at isEazy

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