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Accessibility Issues in Course Writing

INTRODUCTION

It’s probably no surprise that accessibility issues are gaining more of a spotlight with the ever growing online learning trend.

What’s obvious to some needs to a simple guide for others.

Here’s a quick tour through some of the things to consider for your online courses:

WEB CONTENT ACCESSIBILITY

While there have been many attempts to standardise content online, particularly for accessibility, the leader in the area is the Web Accessibility Initiative. They have developed the the Web Content Accessibility Standards 2 – a comprehensive guide to creating and maintaining content that is accessible.

There are two major features of web accessibility standards: the marking up and structuring of code and format, and the display of image, visuals and text. The simple way to remember is: format and form.

You can read the standards here: https://www.w3.org/WAI/standards-guidelines/wcag/

DUBLIN CORE

Another design standard that is relevant for course writers is the Dublin Core.

While not directed specifically at accessibility, the original 13 (now 15) Dublin Core standards provide guidance on metadata and terms, schema, properties and vocabularies. These standards help course writers producing courses to have a common language, structure, and metadata. As this syntax is read by search engines, the Dublin Core has implications for web accessibility.

You can read the standards here: https://dublincore.org/

WEB ACCESSIBILITY CHECKERS

A helpful set of evaluative tools are web accessibility checking tools.

WCA2 standards have a range of accompanying tools to help check the format, content, and structure of content. Checking items such as colors, readability, html coding and potential errors, and the pairing of text and backgrounds. Another area to check is image, titles and alt descriptions of images used in websites. These checks ensure that code is clean and content can be read by those with additional needs.

You can find a list of web accessibility checker tools here:

https://www.w3.org/WAI/ER/tools/

CONCLUSION

Web accessibility may not be top of mind when writing or putting a course online. However, with the number of tools, standards, guidelines and frameworks for content authoring, it makes sense to design courses with accessibility in mind.

After all, if you are investing your time and resources into connecting with your learners, you want to connect with as many learners as possible.

Web accessibility aims to provide inclusive content.