In the United States alone, 26% of people live with a disability. Many people with disabilities use screen readers and other assistive technologies to help them access content every day, including websites and learning content.
The importance of accessibility in learning and development cannot be understated or ignored. Accessibility in learning and development ensures that everyone has access to education and proper training. Whether you're implementing a course for workplace training or an educational eLearning course for high school or higher education, accessibility matters.
You can make a positive impact by improving your education program's accessibility and encouraging others to do the same.
In this article, we review the basics and importance of learning accessibility and what tools you can use to achieve it.
Accessibility is the idea and process of improving a system, site, application, or so it is more accessible for people with disabilities. Accessible learning content is learning content that is designed to be accessible and usable for people with disabilities, including visual impairments and deafness.
Accessibility requires adherence to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). The WCAG outlines the specific actions website owners and those who manage to learn management systems should take in order to make their content more accessible to people with disabilities.
Of course, making learning resources more accessible allows more people - including those with learning difficulties - to access learning materials and thus further their personal and professional development. The benefits do not end at just allowing more people with learning disabilities to enjoy learning experiences, though; instead, creating accessible content makes the learning experience better for everyone.
Learning is not a one-size-fits-all process; everyone learns differently, so creating an individualized learning experience is incredibly important. The Universal Design for Learning is a framework that gives all students an equal opportunity to succeed, accommodating the needs of all students rather than focusing on the needs and learning preferences of only some students.
While its name might imply that the Universal Design for Learning touts the idea that all students - including students with learning difficulties - should learn using one single framework, it actually promotes the idea that students should be presented with multiple ways to consume information, and they can choose the one that fits best for them. In this way, creating accessible learning experiences helps ensure that all students learning needs are met and creates a better classroom for everyone.
When students can understand and easily access the material provided to them, they will better retain the topics learned in class. Students can focus on the material being taught rather than struggling to make it work with their screen reader or other accessibility tools. Ensuring that all the content you provide meets accessibility standards will help your students read, understand, and retain information.
The Universal Design for Learning helps all students get their learning needs met by providing multiple ways to learn any given topic, offering children and adults alike flexibility in their learning journey. When presented with flexibility and the ability to choose the way they learn best, students are more independent and more likely to be interested in the material presented to them.
Increasing accessibility to learning content is a necessary step to take to ensure that students with disabilities have equal opportunities and equal access to all resources. By ensuring that all of the content you provide - audio and video and text alike - is created accessible, you play a part in enabling people with disabilities to access a wide range of learning content.
Increasing the accessibility of your learning materials requires following accessibility standards, making your content compatible with assistive technologies, and keeping people with disabilities in mind during every step of the development process.
Using Maestra Suite can help you ensure that all of the learning content you provide is up to accessibility standards, allowing you to provide transcripts alongside audio and video content, as well as closed captioning for all kinds of content. Transcribing educational content increases accessibility and ensures people who are hard of hearing, have vision impairment or struggle to learn via audio have the tools they need.
Get started with your 15-minute trial of free transcription from Maestra Suite today!