This section of the Inclusive Virginia website provides information, instructional strategies, partnerships, and resources for adult education practitioners on supporting adult learners with differing abilities.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, individuals with disabilities are three times less likely to go online. Learners who perform well in the in-person classroom may struggle accessing and navigating online content. By developing or using accessible content, you create an inclusive learning environment for a diverse population. It is important to keep in mind, however, that creating accessible content is not just for individuals with disabilities. Accessible content benefits many users such as English language learners, literacy learners, mobile device users, and users with low bandwidth. The aim of accessible content is improved access for all.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) created Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to help organizations meet federal requirements for digital accessibility. Creating accessible content can feel overwhelming at times, but it is important to remember that not everything has to be done at once. A scaffolded approach to learning and implementation can make the process more manageable. Even a few key changes can make a difference. In the beginning, the aim is not perfection, but improvement.
So what does accessible vs. inaccessible content look like? Can you Hear the Difference? This YouTube video demonstrates what happens when a screen reader is processing inaccessible content compared to when it is processing accessible content. It helps create an understanding of why all content needs to be accessible.
Top Five Digital Barriers to Accessibility
The VALRC Accessibility Tips provides a brief overview of each of the top five digital barriers to accessibility.
- Hyperlinks – Lengthy or vague hyperlinks should not be used. Ideally, add hyperlinks to descriptive sentences in the page or document and avoid listing full web addresses (URLs) on their own. Hyperlink text should be clear, unique, and meaningful out of context.
- Alt-Tags for Images – Screen readers cannot interpret images and slower Internet connections may have trouble loading them. Alternative text (alt text) is used to describe what the image is about so that screen readers can read that description or those with low internet bandwidth can read the description if the image will not load.
- Contrast – A sufficient contrast ratio between text and background is needed for readability.
- Layout – Clear layouts and designs make it easy for users to find, access, and navigate content.
- Closed-Captioning – Provides a text version of audio from video, animation, webstream, or other recordings that helps a variety of individuals including those with hearing impairments, cognitive or learning disabilities. It also helps those who need to see and hear the content to better understand it such as English language learners.
- Font (size & style) – Small or ornate text can be difficult to read. Sans-serif fonts such as Arial or Verdana are easier to read online. For print other fonts can be considered. More information about fonts and styles can be found on the WebAIM website.
Web Accessibility Guidelines and Procedures
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG): Provides an overview of the WCAG guidelines which were created to provide guidance for creating web accessible materials for individuals with disabilities. These documents provide an overview of how to make web content more accessible for everyone.
Web Accessibility Guidelines: Defines web accessibility guidelines and provides instructions for making various materials accessible.
Designing Accessibility with POUR: Provides an explanation of POUR standards which are another lens through which accessibility can be evaluated. The principles of POUR are perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. This website gives an in-depth look at how to incorporate these standards into making educational materials accessible.
Checking for Accessibility
Creating Accessible Content Resources: This site has demos for what accessible vs inaccessible content looks like and why content needs to be made accessible. It also includes step-by-step tutorials, accessibility guidelines, and even templates for you to use.
The Accessibility Cheat Sheet: Everything accessible in one place. Resources to help teachers create accessible content and courses. This site provides information about:
- Working with Images
- Course Design
- Helpful tools and cheat sheets