ATD Blog

No Excuses

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Why do I write about accessibility?

I haven't been directly impacted or had any significant experiences related to accessibility. Other than being colorblind (I'm not sure which type), I don't have any disabilities. I've never had to design content specifically for anyone with a disability, though maybe I should have. I care, and write about this, because I want every person to have an opportunity to learn. We can't ignore the disabled, or write them off as an insignificant portion of our audience, not worthy of our attention or design.

Why should you care?

I don't know the answer to that. I'd like to think it's because you want to design learning for everyone and you care enough to consider those with disabilities. I'd like to think we are all wired to do the right thing, even when it's not required by law or policy. All I can do is raise awareness and share resources and research to get you to think about this more than you have in the past. It's up to you to do something.

Why are we so far behind?


As an industry, we have access to the best research, the best web technologies and techniques. Yet, we lag behind when it comes to accessibility. Why aren't we adopting their processes, practices? It's time for us to pay attention to web standards and software accessibility and usability standards and guidelines. We have a unique opportunity to impact a massive audience and get more people thinking and talking about universal and inclusive design, accessibility and usability. Talk to your colleagues, read about best practices, share your ideas. Let's push ourselves to do it better. To do it right. It's a move we need to make. A move we must make, for the benefit of all. Start with universally designed, accessible content.

Additional benefits to more accessible content:


Remember, applying universal design principles helps both those with and without disabilities. Some additional benefits include:

  • search-able
  • machine-readable
  • human-readable
  • easier translation
  • extensible
  • reusable
  • good for slow connections
  • mobile-friendly

What next?

  • Ask around. See what others are doing in your organizations, your chapters, and at conferences regarding accessibility.
  • Read. How are others addressing these issues?
  • Brainstorm. Work with your team or some colleagues and come up with some new ideas on how to address universal/inclusive design for your next project.
  • Try. Practice, conceptualize, prototype, test. It's going to take some effort.

We have an opportunity. We should be advocates for accessible, usable content and we should be leading the way because we can make it happen in businesses, in schools, in universities. Policies or no policies, laws or no laws, you should be doing the right thing here.
"I didn't know" is no longer an excuse.


About the Author

Brian Dusablon has been in the learning industry since 1998 as a content developer, instructional designer, LMS administrator, project manager, and consultant. Currently operating as a consultant at his company, Duce Enterprises, he helps organizations apply existing and emerging technologies to improve performance. He also founded Emergent Radio, where he co-hosts a Podcast called The ToolBar, focused on learning technology and design. He has written for Learning Solutions and eLearn magazines.

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