Welcome to the March issue of our Vocational Learning Resources newsletter. This month we’re looking at accessibility and inclusion and what to consider when using digital learning content or developing your own.
What is accessibility and why is it so important?
Accessibility is the practice of designing and developing digital resources and content that can be used by as many people as possible.
A key area of this is making sure that digital content and products are designed so people with disabilities are able to interact with them successfully.
Ensuring that your digital resources are accessible for all students helps to create an inclusive learning environment and allows all students to use digital content to its full potential.
Creating an inclusive learning environment
When choosing digital content and resources, accessibility and inclusion should be considered right at the beginning.
Who are the users of the resources going to be and what are their needs? What kinds of technology and tools will they be using and are they compatible with the content you’ve chosen?
Carefully review any content you intend to use, make sure it caters to everyone’s needs and then factor in these considerations into lesson planning.
In addition to this, consider offering students more choice in terms of the digital learning resources they use. Allowing students to choose content that suits their personal needs will encourage engagement and will facilitate deeper learning. Our Vocational Learning Resources, for example, offer interactive content such as quizzes, case studies, work based scenarios, animations and videos that appeal to different learning styles and put the student in control of their learning journey.
Making digital content accessible
But what should you be looking out for when checking if a digital resource is accessible? It’s a good idea to adopt a ‘usability first’ mindset and focus on how easy the content or resource is to use.
Does the layout make sense? Is the information presented in a clear and logical manner? Are the interactions intuitive or will they cause confusion?
The publisher may also provide some further guidance on how they’ve made their resources accessible. For example, you can find further information on how Jisc are committed to making sure our Vocational Learning Resources are accessible for all FE members by clicking here.
When creating your own digital content, there are some key elements to consider:
- Layout – make sure its logical and structured in a clear way and break down large sections of text into smaller chunks that are easier to read.
- Text – use clear simple fonts and look at the size of the text used.
- Images – ensure that these are consistent with the rest of the information being communicated and alt-text can be added for learners who use screen readers.
- Video – including transcripts and audio commentary alongside video footage will make this more inclusive. Also, audio and video recordings produced and made available by colleges from 23rd September 2020 must now meet Public Sector Body Accessibility Regulations. To read more about what this entails, click here.
Take a moment to reflect on what your organisation is doing to ensure accessibility and inclusion. What steps are you taking to make sure all your learners have equal access to digital learning content? Are there any accessibility issues within your organisation that you’ve seen that haven’t been addressed?
If you’re interested in learning more, Jisc’s Accessible Organisations blog offers insights on how learning providers can create inclusive teaching and learning experiences and our Digital Learning Resources in FE Teaching Toolkit has some handy tips and guidance on accessibility for digital learning content.