Is Your eLearning Accessible to Everyone?

Did you know? 

  • An estimated 1.3 billion people in the world experience significant disabilities. That’s 16 percent of the world’s population, or about one in six people. (This nearly equals the entire population of India.)1  
  • One in four Americans has some sort of disability (or 25 percent, nearly 83 million people, or more than twice the population of California). 
  • Deafness or serious hearing difficulties are present in 5.7 percent of Americans (about 19 million, or 1 in 17 people – or close to the population of New York State.) 
  • About 4.9 percent of Americans have a vision disability, from difficulty seeing (even with glasses) to blindness. That equals approximately 16 million, or about 1 in 20 people – or close to the population of Colorado and Michigan, combined.2 

A woman with short auburn hair, wearing off-white pants and a yellow-orange shirt, is sitting in a wheelchair at a table with black metal legs and a wood top. She is wearing headphones, is smiling, and waving at the laptop screen. Behind her is a grey cement wall with openings that have plants in them. The floor is made of square grey-marbled cement.

What are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines?

In 2008, the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) updated its Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0), a set of international standards of accessibility based on four core principles for accessibility: 

  1. Perceivable: Users must be able to identify content and interface elements with at least one of their senses. 
  2. Operable: Users must be able to use all controls, buttons, navigation options, and other interactive elements on a digital interface. 
  3. Understandable: Users must be able to understand the information as well as the operation of a digital interface. 
  4. Robust: The digital content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.3 

Thanks to the adoption of these standards, the percentage of employed people living with disabilities has been steadily increasing over the past ten years. “People with disabilities have been solving problems their whole life and tend to bring a strong sense of loyalty to the workplace…Leaders from Microsoft and Merck have said they focus on hiring a workforce that reflects their consumer base, which includes people with disabilities.”4  

Learning Management Systems and Accessibility

Built-in Accessibility

The good news is Learning Management Systems (LMS) built with accessibility in mind take the hard work out of planning for accessibility. In most cases, you’ll see the following: 

  • Alt-tag text descriptions are required for all images. 
  • If the learner is identified as using a screen reader, the content adapts to the read-out-loud format. 
  • The screen reader can skip long lists of links
  • The zoom options allow users to increase content size for better readability. 
  • Keyboard navigation is included for learners with limited mobility. 

Person looking at computer monitor that reads, "Designers Should Always Keep Their Users in Mind." There are three people in the background.

Three Best Practice for Content

While this is extremely helpful for logistics, content still needs to be created with three best practices in mind: 

  • Present content in several ways. 
    • Use text alternatives for all non-text content. Examples include: 
      • Alt tags for images, text and/or audio descriptions of infographics and animations. 
      • Captions on videos. 
      • Text transcripts for audio. 
      • Label form inputs. 
  • Use styles in your design. 
    • Remember, screen readers read the HTML coding, not the visual product of it that we all see online. Using basic HTML your LMS formatting tools properly will create a more organized page for screen readers. For example: 
      • Use styles for your headers instead of manually bolding or italicizing words, phrases, or sentences. 
      • Use sentence styles for bullets or numbers, don’t manually organize lists using hyphens or manual bullets. 
      • Use tables only if you are presenting data. Don’t use them to style content. 
      • Don’t use colored or highlighted text to make words and phrases stand out. Instead use bold, italic, and/or block quote styles. 
      • Don’t use color alone to organize content, as color-blind users may have difficulty with it. 
      • Ensure contrast between visual elements (light and dark) 
  • Ensure content and navigation are consistent.
    • This should be the norm for all users. Creating a tutorial helping new learners understand how to navigate your eLearns will allow them to focus on learning instead of figuring out how to get around the course. 

Audit your content for WCAG 2.0 standards

You will want to perform some sort of audit to ensure you are following WCAG 2.0 standards. W3C’s website offers a plethora of tools, including instructions for performing your first self-review and software and online auditing services. We highly recommend you use the W3C website while creating or retrofitting your eLearns for inclusivity. The amount of information there is second to none.5 

Last words

By creating accessible training, you are allowing all people to understand, navigate, and interact with your courses, and show that you take different needs into consideration to make sure everyone can access the same information. 

This is only a very general overview of accessibility guidelines. For the complete guidelines, check out W3C’s guidelines.  


Do you need to upgrade your training to comply with WCAG 2.0 standards! We can help! Contact us to learn how we can help you improve your trainings while staying on budget with our “no surprises” pricing!


Related Blogs




1“Disability.” World Health Organization. 3/7/23. Accessed 3/31/23. 

2“Disability Impacts All of Us.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 5/22. Accessed 3/31/23. 

3Rogers, Stewart. “eLearning Accessibility: Best Practices, Tips, and Tricks.” eLearning Industry. 6/3/18. Accessed 3/31/23.

4Herson, Karen. “Seven Reasons Why Hiring People With Disabilities is Good for Business.” Forbes. 12/3/21. Accessed 4/4/23.

5“W3C Accessibility Standards Overview. W3C. 6/29/22. Accessed 3/30/23.

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