I might be missing something here but after spending the last 15 years working in e-learning and new media it is still far more common to have a conversation about accessibility when talking to a client about a website than a piece of e-learning. Website design has made great strides in supporting usbaility standards, although it still has work to do. With all the different platforms, browsers and technologies it is difficult to achieve complete standards compliance but it does appear to be a common theme in the web design areas. Within e-learning its just doesn’t seem to have the same importance at the moment.
We have worked with e-learning teams where we have created levels of content to provide as much access as possible. NCSL is a fine example of an organisation that has a really clear set of guidelines for developers that includes their position on accesible content. These guidelines help everyone involved are opened up for developers to suggest improvements and also to challenge.
I’m sure that accesibility is a consideration for lots of learning providers, developers and trainers but it doesn’t seem to have the same weight within e-learning. A simple google search saw these results for the term accesiibility e-learning (7,280,000 results) website accessibility (64,500,000) – quite a difference. There are clearly a number of practitioners and researchers carrying out a great deal of work in this area and my google search is hardly a thorough piece of research but I did find the numbers interesting. I’ve got lots of friends and colleagues in the industry who are looking at accessibility but does the industry really discuss what’s needed?
Has the time come for the e-learning industry to look a set of standards relating to accessibility for e-learning design could help? A set of design standards and good practice might also bring some balance to the tender process where so much of the evaluation process is based on price. I know that lots of e-learning practitioners are carrying out great work in this area but isn’t time we all come together?
During my web searches I found several interesting links and articles: