What does accessibility mean in terms of e-learning?

Digitalisation has changed the way people learn. Face-to-face courses are beginning to give way to online courses. Accessibility is the key to a successful e-learning programme. We are not talking here about the availability of modules on the Internet, but about the fact that all learners, regardless of their situation and the difficulties they encounter, can easily access the content.

Definition of e-learning accessibility

This means using technology and standards to provide content that is accessible to all learners, whether they have a disability or not. Approximately 10 to 20% of the population has a disability. In French companies, this represents about 6% of employees. These figures do not take into account dyslexic and colour-blind people who do not declare themselves as disabled for fear of discrimination. Disability situations are numerous, but often stereotyped. For some people, the content of the various training modules is difficult to access, not only because of their state of health, but also because of their living conditions in general. E-learning accessibility therefore takes into account all these parameters and provides facilities to suit all learner profiles.

The four principles of e-learning accessibility

E-learning accessibility is based on the recommendations of the WC3 (World Wide Web) consortium, which defined the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG 2.0. This consortium stipulates that training must be perceptible. All learners must have access to the information, regardless of their profiles. This requires the addition of alternative texts to the buttons, images and any objects that make up each module. It also requires the use of several visual means other than colour. They also need to be usable. The modules must allow learners to act freely: keyboard or mouse navigation, the possibility of not processing timed exercises, the application of filters to easily find content, etc. The content published in each module must be understandable, regardless of the learner’s profile. If they use a screen reader, the modules should allow for the use of several languages. Instructions should be clear, concise and coherent. The content of the different training modules must be reliable and robust so that all assistive technologies can interpret them correctly.

Implementing accessibility in e-learning

To avoid creating a gap between learners, the first thing to think about is universal design, which does not focus on the individual, but on the needs of everyone. This requires a great deal of research and testing, to find out what type of content generates a lot of response. It also requires universal access. Content must be accessible regardless of the device the learner is using.

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