Making your eLearning Accessible

shutterstock_284549888The power of the web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”  Tim Berners-Lee.

In the U.S, most federal agencies and institutions are required to be 508 Compliant and across the world, courses and web pages need to adhere to WCAG requirements.  Both these requirements are geared to make web content accessible to all learners including those who are differently-abled.

Though accessibility, on the surface, seems to be a straightforward requirement, to make an eLearning course truly accessible to all learners is a challenge. You need to first understand the requirements of differently-able learners and the solutions to address these.

Five User Profiles

Knowing the various user profiles that you need to address is crucial in ensuring that the courses are accessible. There are five user profiles to keep in mind while designing for accessibility. You may not be required to cover all the user profiles in your learning solution.

 1. Individuals with visual disabilities

Individuals with visual disabilities have challenges using eLearning courses since these rely on visuals for teaching. The possible solutions for the challenges faced by these individuals are as follows:

  • Provide text descriptions in the alt attribute since they are unable to see images, photos, graphics
  • Allow the users to skip items that might be difficult or tedious to listen to by adding links.
  • Avoid asking the learner to use the mouse extensively, if this cannot be avoided, suggest keyboard alternatives.
  • Avoid relying on color alone to convey meaning
  • Offer audio descriptions of elements in videos that are not covered in audio alone. For example, if there are actions that a character does in the video, describe these in the audio.
  • Individuals with color blindness may require additional considerations such as ensuring there is sufficient contrast in the colors used for a course.

2. Individuals with hearing loss

There are varying degrees of hearing loss, from mild hearing loss to profound hearing loss. For these users, you will need to provide transcripts for audio clips and provide synchronous captioning for video clips.

3. Individuals with deaf-blindness

Deaf-blindness is a condition when the individual is both deaf and blind. When accessing web content, they generally use a Braille device that enables them to access the text content of a web page and provides alternative text for images.

4. Individuals with motor disabilities

Users with motor disabilities include those who have spinal cord injuries or the loss or damage of limb(s). The challenges faced by these users and the possible solutions are as follows:

  • Ensure that all functions are accessible by using the keyboard. These users may rely on voice-activated software. This software cannot duplicate mouse movement as successfully as the keyboard can.
  • Ensure that your pages are ‘error-tolerant’. For example, if the user deletes something, display the message asking them if they are sure they want to delete the file.

5. Individuals with cognitive disabilities

Individuals with learning or cognitive disabilities may be able to function adequately even with the disability. For these users, simplify the layout as much as possible. You can also organize information in manageable chunks and use minimal text.

How are you ensuring accessibility in your learning designs? What are some of the solutions that you have used to make eLearning accessible? Do share your thoughts in the comments below.

Transforming Webcasts into Interactive eLearning Courses

shutterstock_471046154Webcasts or webinars are a popular medium for conveying information and knowledge to the workforce. In my conversations with various life sciences customers, I discovered that many organizations have a library of webcasts with relevant information that are still being used as part of their learning environment. However, one common feedback received from their learners is that “even if the content is relevant, it isn’t engaging at all!”

In today’s highly interactive media world, watching lengthy videos is surely tedious. That’s when I had the idea of turning webcasts into engaging eLearning experiences!

In a typical webcast, you connect through an online meeting tool to watch a presentation and listen to the speaker. You also participate in some polls or questions through the chat window. Webcasts are presented as live sessions and may be also available as a recording.

Why Convert Webcasts into eLearning Courses?

Webcasts lack interactivity if you are watching a recording instead of the live session; it is a passive experience for the learner. Additionally, there is no method to measure the learning outcomes.

As opposed to that, eLearning modules are on-demand training experiences with audio and video elements, interactive activities, knowledge checks and additional resources. One can even perform tasks in simulation courses. You can take the course at a convenient time. With the advent of mobile learning or mLearning, you can also take a course on-the-go on your mobile devices.

You can measure learning outcomes of the course using learner analytics to know how your learners engaged with the course.

3 Easy Steps for Converting Webcasts into eLearning Courses

Step 1: The fishutterstock_351011930-convertedrst step towards converting webcasts into eLearning is to analyze the recording of the webcast and determine which content lends itself to interactivity. During the analysis, you need to determine if the webcast covers all the key information that needs to be included in the eLearning course.  Else collaboration with a SME is necessary to provide the missing content. Using the webcast recording as source material is a good way to reduce dependency on the SME.

Step 2: The content is chunked into smaller, logical parts and then a storyboard is created. The interactions used in the webcasts, for example the whiteboard animations, polls taken to understand user inputs, online games played as brainteasers, questions from the audience at the end of the webcast etc., could be used to create interactive surveys, knowledge checks or interactive scenarios in the eLearning course. One could even use a portion of the webcast video as part of the eLearning course, if relevant.

Step 3: Once the storyboard is finalized, you can start the development of the course using the tool or technology of your choice (e.g. Articulate Storyline, Custom HTML5, Captivate, Raptivity etc.). The choice of the tool will depend on the devices from which the course will be accessed.

5 Things to Keep in Mind before You Start

  1. Merely converting the webcast into an electronic format is not eLearning; just like cut-glass is not a diamond. You must evaluate the content on several criteria to determine how it can be converted into a course.
  2. It is important to define the learning objectives and the learning outcomes of the eLearning course. It will help in analyzing the content and removing any information that is not required for the eLearning course.
  3. There is no need to include everything that has been explained in the webcast in the eLearning course.
  4. It is ideal to collaborate with a trusted partner company that follows eLearning best practices when undertaking this conversion exercise.
  5. It is essential that the content for the eLearning is self-contained since unlike the webcast there is no instructor available for additional annotations. Additionally, the converted training material should be designed for multi-modal presentations – including desktops, tablets, and smart phones.

Already thinking of converting your webcasts into eLearning?

Write to to find out how Harbinger can help you convert your existing webcasts into interactive and engaging eLearning courses.