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Accessibility of eLearning
Accessibility of eLearning

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4.1 Design guidelines and their limitations

Having considered practical accessibility measures we can implement in creating eLearning materials, we now take a closer look at the guidelines that are available to support the development of accessible resources. Guidelines are available from many different sources and cover a variety of learning environments, however they are unlikely to resolve all accessibility issues in any given eLearning context, and should not be treated as a complete solution.

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Figure 24 Guidelines

Coughlan et al. [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] (2017) reviewed accessibility guidelines including the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG2.0), saying ‘Empirical studies have identified limitations in the capacity of such guidelines to ensure accessibility. For example, Power et al. (2012) found that only 50.4% of problems encountered by blind users in evaluations were covered by WCAG 2.0. Brajnik et al. (2010) found that even expert evaluators could find it difficult to reliably identify problems in websites using WCAG 2.0, or to reach shared agreement on the problems that existed.’

Coughlan et al. (2017) go on to say ‘Complementary approaches to understanding disabled users and their experiences in context are desirable. Sloan et al. (2006) outlined how contextual factors and user profiling should be represented in such approaches. Kelly et al. (2007) make recommendations for user-focused accessibility policies and processes that attend to the diversity of users, user aims, and use contexts. Building on this, Cooper et al. (2012) suggest that accessibility cannot be considered as an intrinsic quality of a resource, but that accessibility is only truly achieved with consideration of user and contextual factors.’

Despite the problems associated with the development and use of accessibility guidelines, they can be a useful tool to give developers a basic understanding of the requirements of disabled users, and should not be discounted. They should simply be used as a part of the solution for providing accessible eLearning materials, not as the entire solution.