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March 19, 2020

LMS Accessibility: Ensure Your Training Meets Everyone's Needs

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Organizations that are truly committed to creating an inclusive and positive work environment will take the measures necessary to cultivate a workplace where everyone feels welcome. Individuals with visual, auditory, cognitive and mobility disabilities should be able to access learning and development content and have the tools they need to achieve successful learning outcomes. An accessible LMS software creates inclusive experiences for diverse learner populations, including individuals with disabilities.

LMS accessibility isn't a single feature; it's a series of features and design principles for user experience (UX) and interoperability. The UX should generate consistent learner outcomes across the organization by flexibly accommodating the needs of users with visual, auditory, cognitive and mobility disabilities.

Characteristics of an inclusive LMS

But what does LMS accessibility actually look like? An accessible solution, like Absorb LMS, supports WCAG 2.0 to drive success among employees, external learners and LMS administrators. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) framework defines four ways software experiences can be inclusive for individuals with disabilities. Understanding these four criteria can help L&D leaders foster more universally positive technology experiences for a diverse workforce.

  1. Perceivability: A distinguishable information and user interface (UI).
  2. Operable: A usable navigation experience that's broadly interoperable with assistive input agents.
  3. Understandable: Inclusive ease-of-understanding the UX, language, operations and input requirements.
  4. Robust: Content interoperability with current and future user agents and assistive technologies.

Industry standards for LMS accessibility

There are several standards and regulations for technology accessibility. These include WCAG, Section 508 of the U.S. Federal Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). All three of these standards share a common goal of accommodating individuals with visual, auditory, cognitive and mobility impairments.

  • Section 508 is a federal U.S. standard for government communications, such as websites, to accommodate individuals with disabilities.
  • The ADA is a civil rights law that guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities.
  • WCAG is a set of independent, formal guidelines for developing accessible digital content. It is the same as ISO/IEC 40500:2012.

It's generally best to work with counsel to interpret corporate compliance obligations. However, Section 508 compliance usually applies to public sector agencies and nonprofit service companies.

WCAG is, generally speaking, the strictest and most comprehensive set of accessibility standards. While WCAG has been adopted by government bodies globally—including the U.K. and Australia—it's not the same as law or regulation. Adopting an LMS that supports WCAG can help your organization achieve goals of inclusivity and accessibility. In many cases, WCAG is compatible with regulatory compliance.

eLearning accessibility features & design

Absorb strives to set the bar for LMS accessibility by conforming with WCAG 2.0 standards for learner and administrator experiences. The LMS software offers a range of features and UX design to accommodate diverse accessibility scenarios, including:

  • Use of high-contrast colors
  • Consistent UI and icons
  • Accessible multiselect lists
  • Accessible text editors
  • Screen reader-accessible instruction information
  • Support for accessible course content

Accessible LMS technology & learning content

Creating inclusive experiences for learners and administrators with visual and hearing impairments is more efficient with an LMS that supports accessibility standards. An LMS that supports WCAG, and other accessibility guidelines, can create a foundation for an inclusive L&D program. However, it isn't all you'll need. Accessible course content that meets WCAG standards is also necessary to ensure learners can experience equal access to instructional experiences—regardless of individual ability or use of assistive technologies.

Absorb LMS is committed to making learning accessible for everyone. See a live demo and drive inclusion at your workplace.