Introduction to 508 Compliance

“The power of the web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”  – Tim Berners-Lee.Before we introduce 508-Compliance, let’s first answer some basic questions.

  • What does “accessibility of an eLearning course” mean?

    • It means that a person taking the e-learning course should have full and complete ability to interact with the course, whether or not the person has a disability

  • Why is accessibility important for eLearning?

    • At least 10% of the population in most countries has disabilities of different types
    • Adults with disabilities spend twice as much time online as adults without disabilities
    • Adults with disabilities say the Internet has significantly helped them communicate and socialize
    • No organization can afford to deliberately ignore this audience sector

Accessibility Challenges

Now that we have answered the need for making courses universally accessible, let’s look at some accessibility related challenges to which 508-Compliance is an answer.

  • Visual Disabilities

    • Images, photos, and graphics cannot be directly used by visually challenged users
    • Complex data tables and graphs that are usually interpreted visually, again cannot be directly used by visually challenged users
    • Users often listen to the web pages
    • Users often jump from link to link or navigate using the TAB key

  • Color Blindness

    • Colors alone cannot be used for imparting information
    • Colors of similar contrast are often indistinguishable
    • Low Vision
    • Users often use screen enlargers
    • Text in graphics does not enlarge without special software, and looks pixilated when enlarged
    • Hearing Disabilities

      • Audio is unusable

  • Motor Disabilities

    • Users may be using voice-activated software
    • Users may not be able to use the mouse

  • Cognitive Disabilities

    • Users may be confused with complex layouts or inconsistent navigational schemes
    • Users may have difficulty focusing on or comprehending lengthy sections of text
    • One method of input may not be sufficient

Compliance 508 is a government initiative designed to help disabled individuals operate and consume electronic and information technologies. The initiative contains a number of requirements that pertain to using technology applications and building pages within an online learning course. It encourages accessibility by disabled individuals both to using content management tools as well as consuming the business content information produced by those tools.

In our next series, we will discuss about “Accessibility goals and how to achieve 508 Compliance in eLearning”. Keep watching this space for more.

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