Online education is becoming more and more popular as time goes on, and this is no accident. Online education is often cheaper for organizations to carry out, as well as generally being cheaper for students to attend. Not only that, but online school is more convenient for the attending students than traveling for physical classes in person. Because of the desirability and advantages that these classes have, they must also be accessible for students who may not normally be able to participate in the class due to a handicap or other inhibition. So, it is important for online course development to have a solid focus on accessibility when it comes to higher education.
Accessibility in Higher Education
For many students, higher education is a necessity for them to reach their career goals. Doctors, lawyers and even businessmen all require a degree from an accredited institution of higher education. This means that, for the vast majority of students in secondary education, university in some form is essential to their goals for their future.
To help students along on their path, universities and similar organizations must promote accessibility in post-secondary learning. And because online and digital learning solutions are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in these organizations, accessibility in online higher education must also be heavily prioritized. According to a 2005 study, there were as many as 54 million people with disabilities in the US at that time, meaning that accessible content is essential to reach many of these individuals.
Strategies for Creating Accessible Course Content
Whether it be an entire course or simply elements of a physical class, accessibility strategies are very important in digital learning solutions. Properly employing these strategies can lead to greater student retention and higher levels of success across the courses in question. The following strategies are essential to promoting online accessibility.
Understand and Plan
It’s not enough anymore to wait for a student’s needs to become an issue. Now you must be proactive when it comes to implementing accessibility into course materials. By thinking about what measures you can take in advance of needing them, you can plan for the future so that when a student’s needs become prohibitive, there are already measures in place to ensure that the student in question will not be disadvantaged in the course. So, all in all, it is important to ask what you can do and create plans before the need for them actually arises. Assess your course material to find where you can improve, and implement features
Utilize Accessibility Needs Audits
Accessibility audits are relatively new technology. What they effectively do is measure where your content is lacking in accessibility and highlight where you could take greater measures to increase accessibility. As such, these programs are extremely valuable tools for anyone creating web content with accessibility in mind. These auditing tools can also ensure that you’re in line with accessibility content requirements, preventing you from potentially failing to meet any standards.
Progressive enhancement is another excellent tool for creating accessible content. Progressive enhancement aims to trim the fat from websites, delivering the most essential content first. This methodology allows you to supply users with the content that they need but also supply more content as the user progresses. This means that users who are limited by their technology, Internet connection or settings will receive content tailored to their specific situation.
All in all, accessibility is an essential part of the ever-growing field of digital learning. Employing accessibility solutions in your e-learning content will foster greater success in your students as well as across your courses in general.