Accessibility is one of the most important aspects in all of web design, especially considering that as many as 5.8 million students are enrolled in online courses. Creating accessible content ensures that all potential users are able to understand and access the site without any issues. This is a particularly important issue when it comes to instructional design. Online courses need to be as accessible as possible so that all students participating in the course are able to understand and use the content contained within. By promoting accessibility in online design and digital learning, you are making your content more usable and opening up your audience to a wider range of individuals.
The Importance of Promoting Accessibility.
The chief goal of accessible web design is to make it so that all users on a website or online course can understand and access the information they need. These users must also be able to access the information regardless of any disabilities they may have. These disabilities could be physical disabilities, such as blindness or deafness, or even a learning disability, and studies show that 1 in 5 people in the United States have a disability in some form. Because of this, promoting accessibility is not only a moral opportunity but a business opportunity as well. Not only are you opening up greater education to those who may not normally be able to access it, but you are also opening yourself up as an accessible supplier where other organizations are failing to meet the standards you are striving for.
Ways to Be More Accessible
Accessibility is an ongoing goal, and at times, it can be a struggle to accommodate as many different users as possible. In spite of this, there are still many sure-fire guidelines you can follow to ensure that you are creating accessible content.
Be Feature Rich
It can be easy to go overboard with this one. Many websites that strive to stack feature on top of feature can actually end up creating courses or pages that are too "busy" and defeat the end goal of accessibility. Because of this, it is important to remember not to go overboard on incorporating features only keeping it down to the essentials. Incorporate features such as subtitles, text to speech or mouse-over info pages for individuals who are having trouble understanding the content. Including simplified instructor explanations can be the difference between a student getting lost or understanding.
Keep It Simple
Simplicity is the key to accessibility. When your content is simple, a user can more easily sift through the knowledge in front of them and make sense of your content. Some organizations will overcrowd pages wanting to show off how many features or how much content their site has. Doing this can overload students and users and cause them to not be able to use your site or your content effectively, which is never a good thing.
Consider New Paths
Never get yourself tied down with a certain idea, path or execution. If you keep your options open, then you can often find new avenues to success. Also, it helps to consider what your users may like to have implemented. Considerate design, particularly in online course development, will lead to more accessible content for the end user.
In the end, it is important to remember that online accessibility is a perpetual, often uphill battle. However, creating accessible solutions to higher education will not only benefit your users but also your organization.