Electronic and information technology materials that are made for programs funded by U.S. federal grants or other government funds are required to be Section 508 compliant. What’s more, all organizations are expecting their learning content to be compliant with the law.
Globally, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines outline best practices and standards for accessibility levels of electronic content, and, while not required by law internationally, have been adopted by some countries as legally required. And recently, Section 508 incorporated WCAG 2.0 guidelines into its own compliance standard.
Orey suggests the following as a course of action if you want to ensure that all of your L&D materials are Section 508 compliant.
- Complete an inventory of all of your learning courses.
- Compile a list of software programs used to manage learning programs.
- Identify your most used content, as well as those programs that are most important--for example, those that meet regulatory requirements or are strategically critical.
- List all of the learning methodologies you use now, and expect to use in the near future—such as face to face, mentoring, and mobile instruction.
- Explore learning access needs, both stated, but also unstated potential needs—such as those around mobility impairment or color blindness.
As you strive to make your training materials accessible, Orey recommends maintaining a positive mindset, a perspective of understanding, and a willingness to accept the challenge.
Here are a few strategies for ensuing accessible learning:
- Check that there is physical access to the training room for participants with mobility-related disabilities—that is, a ramp and room to maneuver for persons using a wheelchair.
- Use both keystroke- and mouse-enabled content to allow for multiple ways to access materials.
- Examine color choice and contrast of slides and graphics.
- Provide transcripts for course videos.
The time to think about your course design is at the early stages, not as an afterthought. And, as Orey emphasizes, “Test your process and your design along the way to ensure that it is working as you intended.”
For more advice, be sure to check out “Designing Section 508 Compliant Learning.”