Understanding is intrinsic to learning. Having an equal opportunity to learn is a fundamental right of every individual, whether he/she has a disability or irrespective of his/her physical disposition. This is the premise on which the entire online accessibility movement began.
Accessibility in simple terms is a concept that advocates inclusivity and universality in whatever you create. It implies, whether it is a product or a service, everything that you build should be made in such a way that it can be used by everyone, regardless of how they encounter it.
This is especially valuable and relevant when it comes to eLearning or online web content. eLearning accessibility ensures that online learning is delivered by an organization with such care and consideration that even learners with special needs can access it without much hindrance.
According to WHO, a billion people, or nearly 15% of the world’s population, has some form of a disability. If we focus on the US, the number is even more startling at 26%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, higher in the US than the global average.
Disabilities is broad ranging
When we think of disability, we commonly think about vision or hearing but that’s not it. In fact, there are different types of categories of disabilities.
There is cognition, mobility, self-care, inability to live independently, and a combination of these, implying a broad scope of accessibility concerns.
As per the American Optometric Association, beginning in the early to mid-40s, many adults may start to have problems seeing clearly at close distances, especially when reading and working on the computer. There’s also the issue of color perception with one in twelve individuals having this problem. These are just some of the examples. The list of disorders is rather quite long.
For instance, apart from vision and hearing, you also have motor or physical impairment, and other types of learning difficulties or cognitive difficulties that people have that come in the way of learning effectively.
The scale and scope for disability is quite massive. If we consider all these possibilities, it displays a vast landscape of disabilities that businesses need to design for. If such a large group of people have issues in accessing digital content, it becomes the responsibility of business leaders to make online content accessible.
People with disabilities should be able to enjoy online content and services with the same ease as everyone else. And this is not just a noble cause. It makes business sense and has legal implications as well. Thus, there are a lot of reasons why businesses need to look at digital accessibility seriously.
Top 5 Reasons to Implement Digital Accessibility
Let us look at the most important reasons for making content digitally accessible:
1. Accessibility is a legal mandate
Accessibility is increasingly becoming a non-negotiable requirement when it comes to eLearning. For online learning, accessibility implies two basic requisites:
- Familiarity with accessibility standards issued under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Revised Section 508, and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG – including WCAG 2.0, 2.1, 2.2)
- Keeping pace with the changing technology
The above standards and technology together drive how eLearning content is accessed by people who have disabilities. Accessibility support with ADA, Revised Section 508, and WCAG 2.0/2.1 standard is therefore critical when it comes to eLearning.
2. Accessibility improves user experienc
According to a Facebook study, video ads with closed captions increase video view time by an average of 12%. In other words, when the content is simpler to access and understand, users are easily drawn towards it.
When you provide accessible content, i.e., content which is easy to navigate, offers text clarity, allows ease of use, is visually aesthetic, and offers keyboard operability, learners of all abilities can use it, and there is no limitation on the user base.
3. Reaching a larger learner audience
Accessibility is for all. It is not limited to any one disability. It is a concept that focuses on enabling users with disabilities to understand, perceive, interact, and navigate information like everyone else. This helps the users contribute and learn equally without any barriers. A universal design that makes content more user-friendly is therefore certainly a plus.
4. Portraying your business brand that values inclusivity
There is a lot of careful planning, design deliberation, knowledge of accessibility principles, and implementation experience that goes into making content functional, easier to perceive, quicker to understand, and intuitive to navigate. All these factors add up to the brand value – users appreciate the brand that takes efforts to add inclusivity to their content.
Accessibility not only ensures inclusivity by helping learners with disabilities but in the larger context it brings benefits to everyone. In other words, lack of accessibility can impact anybody. eLearning accessibility therefore is no more a ‘good to have’ feature but a fundamental necessity.
5. Better SEO ranking
According to a Gartner report, being web-accessible can improve your TAM (Total Available Market) from 15% to 46%. In other words, web-accessible websites are more SEO-friendly.
Additionally, many governments across the world are coming up with accessibility standards and legislations. Therefore, accessibility is a significant mandate from the compliance perspective as well.
Digital Accessibility for Greater Learner Engagement
Harbinger recently hosted a Power Hour on Digital Accessibility: From the Viewpoint of Decision-Makers with industry experts Casandra Blassingame, President and CEO, IACET; David Berman, Accessibility Expert, David Berman Communications; and Krista Weber, Director of User Experience, Vector Solutions. This interactive webinar was hosted by Dr. Vikas Joshi, CEO, Harbinger Group.
David shared an interesting insight about what made him passionate about inclusive design during this session. He said, “My parents taught me that social justice is not optional. Over the last 10-15 years I realized that because of the time we live in, the biggest opportunity perhaps I have as an inclusive designer, as a professional communicator, is to focus on including everyone. We live in a generation where it is truly possible to include everyone. We have the technology, we can do this now, so we must.”
Harbinger has been at the forefront at offering end-to-end eLearning accessibility solutions and consulting. We have over a decade of experience designing accessible learning content that complies with WCAG, ADA, and Revised Section 508 standards.
If you have an idea to discuss, please write to us at email@example.com. Harbinger experts will be happy to help you design accessible eLearning content to create inclusive learning experiences and design programs that fulfil all eLearning accessibility considerations.