Beyond ‘Alt Text’: Making learning content equitable

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) recently passed on 20th May, which got us thinking about how we, as learning content creators, make learning more accessible for people with different abilities.

For us at Learning Vault, accessibility isn’t about whether or not all students and teachers can click on a tool; it is about whether or not students and teachers have the same use and understanding of that tool as their peers and colleagues. More so, it is equity that we seek, not just accessibility.

Since our foundation, it has been a drive of ours to ensure that our learning content is universally accessible. When in discussion with organisations around building content, it has often been members of our team that start and drive conversations on accessibility. When mentioning the term WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) there has been an audible silence, followed by the very clear tapping of some hasty search engine use!

There is much to consider with accessibility and it is complex in its simplicity. It goes well beyond providing an alternative text for images (which was the unfortunate standard for so long). The aim is to make the experience of all content the same for each student and teacher. Simple.

The way in which this is executed can be quite complicated, however. The easiest path to follow is by setting some rules. Most of us should be familiar with: setting alt texts, creating headers, creating headings in a meaningful order and reviewing colour palettes through colour contrast checkers. Few people, however, have taken the time to understand how electronic readers work and what they actually read out to the user. This is where the difference lies between accessibility and equity.

We are delighted to see that more organisations are realising the importance of accessibility in their training content. Moreover, it is great to find organisations that are utilising software and techniques that show our creators that there is always more to learn. Through this understanding, we’ve been able to create resources that are not only engaging, but also accessible - that is to say: equitable.

Some techniques we can all use to make content more accessible:
  • Using alt text for describing images for viewers who are unable to see them
  • Using PDF/word documents that are able to be read by an electronic reader
  • Adjusting documents to have headings, headers, headings in a meaningful order, including colour contrasts
  • Adjusting documents to include meaningful tables (tables with appropriate headers and information arranged so that it is easily read, not just having tables for aesthetic reasons)
  • Including closed captions on videos
  • Ensuring that buttons are selectable
  • Ensuring software allows for electronic readers to be used

If you are interested in seeing a demo of our learning resources and their accessibility, get in touch!