3 Ways to Enhance Accessibility in Online Courses

Accessibility is key to online learning. It provides each unique student with content that they can read, understand, apply and remember.

For students who experience challenges to their sight, hearing or motor control, this means high standards. It means holding educational content to high standards and ensuring the content meets Section 508 accessibility standards.

Enhance the accessible nature of eLearning solutions using these three tips:

1. Test Content With Screen Readers

Online content doesn’t just appear on the screen. For most viewers, it also functions as part of a larger website or web platform. Content often appears in an interactive way.

To make each layer of content accessible, ensure that the information is complete on the front end and the back end. Be sure that images include alternative text and captions read clearly. Links should also have labels that appear under the hover function and metadata should be fleshed out.

Test the content with a screen reader or eReader. This will ensure that the web elements read back smoothly for those who are vision-impaired.

2. Provide Adequate Color Contrast

Another obstacle to viewing content accurately and understanding the material presented can involve the color of the objects on screen. Students with disabilities may have trouble differentiating between the colors on screen, unless the colors are designed with bold choices and stark color contrast. Avoid using color palettes that are created solely from a design perspective, and opt for colors that contrast well and promote a positive and accessible learning experience instead.

3. Use Plain Language Even for Advanced Learners

Plain language use is an essential component of accessibility, because it helps students from all backgrounds understand the content that is being presented. Simple language may also be easier to grasp for students who speak a native language other than English. This accessible use of language calls for using simple, active verbs and using straight-forward word choices to create content, instead of relying on flowery language, which may also be confusing to some.

There are many ways creators can provide accessible online content, ranging from visual notifications that accompany sound to multiple languages in eLearning software. Start adjusting content so that it is easy to read, understand and translate through eReaders, then build out the materials further. The end result will be accessible content that helps students from every walk of life achieve success.

American Foundation for the Blind
Accessibility and Usability at Penn State
National Institutes of Health