Accessibility of eLearning
Accessibility of eLearning

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Accessibility of eLearning

3.9 Quick ways to improve accessibility

Described image
Figure 21 Doing things the right way will lead to success

There are a few very simple things you can implement along the way that will get your eLearning materials off to a flying start in terms of accessibility.

  • Ensure that resources are created to be accessible using only a keyboard (for those who cannot use a mouse) and using only a mouse (for those unable to use a keyboard). For example, you can ensure that it is possible to ‘Tab’ between items on a form, and that drop-down lists function properly by use of the keyboard alone.
  • Check images (especially images containing text) for pixelation at high magnification (most operating systems now include a magnification tool) and ensure descriptions are provided and are fit-for-purpose.
  • Choose colours and fonts carefully. Whilst every individual has their own needs and there is no one solution that suits everyone, certain combinations do seem to benefit a majority of users. For example, many people with dyslexia prefer a lighter text (cream or yellow) against a darker background (navy or black), and prefer a sans serif font. This will not suit everyone, however, and the best solution, if at all possible, is to allow the user to set these options themselves according to their own preference.
  • Check also that colour alone is not used to convey meaning – for example if providing a response to a multi-choice question, give a green tick or a red cross, rather than simply a green dot or red dot, which may be indistinguishable to someone with colourblindness.
  • Test colour contrasts, particularly between text and the background colour it sits over. There are free colour contrast checking tools available online – you should be aiming for a contrast ratio of at least 4.5 to 1 for all text items, although for longer pieces 7 to 1 is better (W3C WAI [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , 2008).
  • Ensure your material will function with a screen reader. You can perform basic tests with a free screen reader such as NVDA. However, more comprehensive testing should be performed with experienced screen reader users if possible.
  • Keep language simple where possible. Sign language users may not be fluent in a text-based language, and people with dyslexia or cognitive difficulties will also benefit from straightforward use of language. This is not to say you should not use appropriate terminology, but that the language should not be more complex than it needs to be. If your materials are in English, you may find useful resources at the website of the Plain English Campaign.
  • Ensure the user has control over basic things like stopping and starting audio clips. Never include audio that starts automatically – this can create issues for those using other forms of audio output.
  • Keep your design as clear and consistent as possible.
  • Test your fledgling resources with as wide a variety of users as possible. This is by far the best way to check that your attempts at creating accessible eLearning materials have been successful, and that you have achieved a high degree of usability at the same time.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371