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New to Accessible eLearning? 

If you're new to accessible e-Learning, you may be confused about what this means.

It may help to understand a few of the common terms you'll see as you are researching this topic.

  1. Accessibility: generally describes the degree to which a product, device, service, or environment is available to as many people as possible. When referring to the accessibility of online content, such as e-Learning, accessibility refers to the degree to which all people, especially those with disabilities, can access the content.

  2. Assistive (or Adaptive) Technology: Assistive or Adaptive Technology commonly refers to "...products, devices or equipment, whether acquired commercially, modified or customized, that are used to maintain, increase or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities...", according to the definition proposed in the Assistive Technology Act of 1998.

  3. Section 508: In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 794d) as amended by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (P.L. 105 - 220), August 7, 1998 to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities. Specifically, Section 508 of that act requires that when Federal agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use EIT, Federal employees with disabilities have access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access and use by Federal employees who are not individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency.

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  4. WCAG 2.0:  WCAG stands for "Web Content Accessibility Guidelines".  2.0 refers to the specific version of these standards.  WCAG has three levels of compliance - A, AA or AAA (AAA being the most accessible).  As noted, WCAG is a global standard.  In 2017, the federal government updated Section 508 such that Section 508 compliance is for all practical purposes WCAG 2.0 AA compliance. 

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Accessibility Compliance can be challenging:

Section 508/WCAG 2.x  compliance for e-Learning content can be:

  • Costly - Section 508 compliance is commonly avoided during the sales process and instead, it is an afterthought. The potential risks and costs of remediating courses that fail Section 508 testing should not be overlooked when projects begin.  Estimates are that it cost 5x the original development cost to remediate a course that fails accessibility.

  • Challenging - All too often, interpretation of Section 508 requirements is left to individual developers on a course-by-course basis. Limitations are imposed on creativity and design when the intricacies of programming the technology for use with assistive technology is required by those unfamiliar with this ever-changing technology.

  • Complicated - The complex interactions between web browsers, the e-Learning content, and an LMS (Learning Management System) make e-Learning development complicated. The sheer number of technology layers that must work together is significant. An assistive technology layer (screen readers, for example) adds an entirely new dimension to an already complex landscape.

Do you want to learn how to avoid all of these issues? ​​ If so, get in touch.

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