Level Up Learning: Why Accessibility Matters in EdTech

May 15 2024

What Does It Mean to Make Your Educational Content Accessible

Rajesh Ghadage: Quality Assurance Team Lead
Rajesh Ghadage

Quality Assurance Team Lead

Although you might consider education a universal right, the sad truth is that most people around the world are unable to access educational content due to physical, technological, and linguistic barriers. Yet our increasing global shift to the digital realm is dramatically improving the way we approach content by making it accessible to a wider audience of learners.

What is Accessibility?

In simple terms, accessibility is the catering of services, products, and environments to people with disabilities and/or special needs. Thus, accessibility aims to create an inclusive and equitable ecosystem that enables participation from all sectors of society.

This could mean equipping buildings with ramps and elevators, updating washrooms with features to assist the mobility impaired, ensuring that websites are easy to navigate for the visually challenged, or providing the elderly with larger text-font sizes.

And while huge improvements in access are steadily increasing, vast differences still exist between the types of access available. Since education is essential for the growth of civilization, it’s vital that learning institutions provide ways to include the globally estimated 15% of those disabled.

How Do We Implement Accessibility Features into Education?

One example of the global shift to accessibility was 2019’s European Accessibility Act, which requires all EU businesses to implement standardized accessibility features. This law proved a crucial incentive for the European Union to increase participation in the workforce and thus become competitive in the global learning landscape, with academic institutions leading the way.

There are several ways to increase the accessibility of educational content. One approach is to ensure physical and offline accessibility by reducing various barriers inherent to bodily movement. Technology accessibility is the second step, which involves a broader gamut of options, especially when utilizing digital accessibility services.

These learning accessibility solutions include:

  • Alt Text – Providing alternative text for images and other non-text content is essential for students who use screen readers and other assistive technologies.
  • Simpler Versions – Clear and simple language assists students with cognitive or language impairments by making the course material easy to understand.
  • Metadata – A crucial yet overlooked aspect that adds necessary contextual information as the basis for systems to interpret content as per structure, language, navigation, etc.
  • Text to Speech – One of the most useful web accessibility solutions is the option of an automated speaker reading aloud educational content, which greatly helps a multitude of students with hearing and/or learning disabilities.
  • Closed Captions (CC) – Transcripts or captions for audio/video content help students with auditory disabilities and those whose native language differs from that of the courses.
  • SMEs and Complex Information – Simplifying scientific data, graphs, and charts with the help of SMEs, boosts student retention levels.
  • Color Contrast – Simple fixes like fine-tuning the color contrast on devices and websites make text more readable.
  • Using Diverse Mediums – Your courses and curriculum, including digital textbooks, should be available to students across a variety of mediums, based on preferred student choices. Lastly, in order to ensure continual improvement in your academic content, it’s essential to implement feedback and testing mechanisms into your workflow, fundamental features for achieving optimal learning outcomes in your quest to create personalized and engaging education.

Please learn more about Accessibility services here.

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