Accessibility Part 1: Removing Barriers to Learning

By May 10, 2016 March 3rd, 2020 No Comments

The Internet is an incredible resource. Never before in history has it been so easy to find the answer to a question. Never before has it been simpler to classify and share knowledge, yet the very nature of the medium can itself be a significant barrier to training.

For example, websites are intensely visual. Text, charts, graphs and images drive the content; however, information presented this way is inaccessible to the blind. Another example focuses on training videos and webinars. Without close captioning, the videos are not helpful to those who are deaf or hearing impaired. Sites that rely on mouse navigation present a hurdle for individuals with physical disabilities.  

Every level of government legislates physical accessibility to schools, libraries and offices. However, legislation mandating full access to information is ad hoc and evolving slowly. In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADAt provides general guidelines for accessibility. While this legislation pre-dates the Internet, the US Department of Justice is increasingly applying the principles of the ADA to website accessibility.

Organizations that are unable to offer accessible information may open themselves to lawsuits from customers or even employees. Organizations advocating accessibility might also file lawsuits against a company. For example, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (a UK-based charity) filed suits against corporate websites that were not accessible to the blind. Going forward with accessible design in mind can mean avoiding a costly legal case.

May 19 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). GAAD was organized primarily as a means of spreading awareness of accessibility concerns among communities that build technology and distribute information online. Remote-Learner is committed to removing the walls that exist for learners. We want to make it easier for our clients to connect with their users. One way in which our websites make it easier for everyone to access content is through Atto text editor’s accessibility features, which comes packaged with Moodle® 2.7 and later editions.

Atto’s Accessibility Tools

Atto is the default text editor used for entering course descriptions, assignments and more. In addition to the usual text tools, Atto boasts two features – the Accessibility Checker and the Screen Reader Helper – that can be activated to ensure your content is available to everyone.

You can access these tools by clicking on the Show More Buttons icon in the editor toolbar at the top left of the Atto window.

Accessibility Checker tool (located on the right side of the toolbar)  makes sure the content in the editor does not contain any color schemes or layout which would make it difficult to read. The icon is an eye with a strike-through.

Clicking the button launches a review window in which potential problems (if any) are identified.

The Screen Reader Helper tool checks your content to ensure it is compatible with standard screen text readers. It will check images for descriptive text, as well as any embedded links.

The Screen Reader Helper tool allows you to confirm that the screen reader software can correctly present content.

Another way the Atto editor helps ensure accessibility is by automatically checking for alt text embedded in any images you upload. The alt text description is used by screen readers to present a description of a given image. By default, you are required to provide an alt text description when uploading an image to Atto. This option may be turned off for individual image uploads, but should be used as a standard practice.

All the features discussed in this article provide easy ways to ensure your content meets legal standards to permit everyone access to your training. In a future article, we’ll look at proactive measures you can take to ensure all your content – including quizzes, galleries and more – is truly accessible to all learners.