Why Accessibility Matters
Your current customers and potential new customers need learning management systems (LMS) that:
- are accessible to instructors and other LMS users with disabilities
- produce accessible content for students
Accessibility for instructors and students is an essential aspect of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Accessibility is required by law and is a procurement requirement in many situations.
These persona scenarios show examples of accessibility problems that disabled people experience using LMSs, and what works well in tools that are accessible.
Everyone can use previews
Persona: Zola is a physics professor at a large university. She is blind and uses a screen reader that reads aloud the information on her screen.
I can't preview uploaded content for my students using my screen reader. I can't navigate the preview like I can a regular web page.
The content preview works just like a web page in a browser. I can navigate it easily using my screen reader's functionality.
Users who have auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, or visual disabilities need to be able to preview the course content before posting it for students.
Everyone can edit content
Persona: Aroon is a school administrator. He can't move his arms due to a spinal cord injury and he uses speech recognition to navigate through applications and websites.
I can't sort the course attendees data table. There's no way to activate the column sort with voice.
I can interact with the course attendees table by voice. I can select the column I want to sort by.
Some people cannot use a mouse. They need to be able to use your LMS with their tools, such as speech recognition, keyboard, and switches.
The LMS helps make course content accessible
Persona: Irina is the director of an online professional training center. She is an expert in her job; however, she doesn't know much about accessibility.
I'm adding charts to our courses. I have no idea what I need to do to make them accessible to students with disabilities.
Whenever I add a chart to a course, the tool prompts me to add a short description and a full text alternative for the chart data. There's also "Learn More" that explains why it's important for accessibility, and how to do it well.
LMSs need to produce accessible content. Part of that is up to your tool and part is up to the user. Your tool can provide prompts and information to help users know what they need to do to provide accessible course content.
The Accessibility Standard to Help You
Your learning management system (LMS) is sometimes called an “authoring tool” because people use it to author or create course content. There is an international standard that addresses accessibility needs in LMSs: Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG).
Use ATAG to help make your tool:
- accessible to instructors and other users with disabilities (Part A)
- support accessible content for students (Part B)
To get started putting ATAG to work for you, see:
- Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) Overview, with links to the ATAG standard and Implementing ATAG
- ATAG at a Glance, a paraphrased summary to give you an idea of what’s covered in ATAG