Web Accessibility for Online Learning
What is Web Accessibility?
Web accessibility is the extent to which content is made available, understandable and usable for all, regardless of disabilities or impairments. However, most understand web accessibility to be specifically about making content friendlier for individuals with disabilities or impairments.
Although the later view is not wrong, it does make many question the value of putting such an effort into creating accessible content when their target audience does not have any disabilities or impairments.
That is why we must look beyond the fact that it is our legal obligation* and understand that by implementing good Web Accessibility practices in our online courses it is really an improved experience for everyone.
What are the benefits?
It is clear that by improving the accessibility for everyone and aiming for total digital inclusion, we open our audience base and ensure an inclusive experience for everyone by providing better services to those who have a disability or an impairment. That way everyone can find what they need, when they need it, and easily.
But in addition to this, an accessible online experience will also:
Increase the effectiveness of our online courses overall
Reduce calls and office visits by enabling your students in the online space
Demonstrate social responsibility
Meet student experience expectations
And of course, fulfil our legal responsibilities and expectations
How can I implement best practice?
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organisation for the World Wide Web (WWW) have published a set of guidelines on accessibility known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The guidelines are a good set of standards designed as recommendations for making Web content more accessible.
To implement all the recommendations set forth in the guidelines, will require a huge effort. So a few key high impact recommendations have been identified as part of the RMIT Canvas Uplift Elements. Specifically in Element 15 – Course material: Accessibility. Just implementing 1 or 2 of the recommendations listed in Element 15 will make a big difference to your students.
*Web Accessibility is our legal obligation according to the Discrimination Act 1992 and Disability Standards for Education 2005