5 Ways to Advocate for Accessibility as a New Instructional Designer

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We're tackling this early in my "UX Design for E-Learning" series, because Accessibility design should be an integral part of your Instructional Design philosophy. Section 508 and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 compliance are required by law for many courses.

Accessibility is as broad a topic as anything else in the instructional design world because there are many different types of accessibility needs.

Let's go over some definitions before we get to the list.

Definitions

Accessibility refers to how a person with a disability uses something. Usability relates to how (relatively) easy something is to use something. You can find a plethora of information on usability testing, but you might have to dig a little deeper to find diversity in test subjects. Instructional Design has the same issue with accessibility.

(Other Terminology to know)

  • Learning Experience Design (LXD) is the application of UX design principles of usefulness, usability, and desirability to create engaging learning activities that enable the learner to achieve the desired outcomes in a human centered and goal oriented way.

  • User Experience Design encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with an organization, its services, and its products.

Accessibility allows us to tap into everyone’s potential.
— Debra Ruh

5 Ways to Advocate for Accessibility as a New Instructional Designer

Here are five ways you can advocate for accessibility at your new, current, and future jobs.

  1. Understand the basics of Accessibility: You cannot build an accessible course without understanding HOW to build an accessible course. Research WCAG 2.0 compliance. Learn what the law says about internet accessibility on Section508.gov. Pick up a few books on accessibility, like "A Web for Everyone: Designing Accessible User Experiences" by Sarah Horton. Check out the website, WebAIM to learn how to write alternative text.

  2. Learn accessible e-Learning design: Look for ways to improve your accessible e-Learning design, like Articulate Storyline's "6 Best Practices for Designing Accessible Learning".

  3. Ask about your current (or future) organization's accessibility standards: If you are interviewing for an Instructional Design position, this can be on your list of "questions for the employer". How does the organization support accessible learning? If they are not currently 508 compliant, do they have a plan to do so in the future?

  4. Push back when others are resistant to Accessible design: Recognize exclusion, and encourage others to see accessibility as a driver for innovation and excellent user experience design.

  5. Talk to people who benefit from Accessible Design: Create a diverse testing group that includes people who require assistive technology and accessible design. Don't make assumptions about your users without talking to them first.

How will you use Learning Experience Design to advocate for accessibility in your learning interventions? Share this article with your teammates to get the conversation going.

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