How to get Web Accessibility right

Accessibility is fundamental for learning designers wishing to provide learning content for everyone. Learning designers are almost exclusively using digital tools to do their jobs, so software accessibility has never been more important than now.

As a software development company focused on the learning industry, Androgogic recognises our responsibility to ensure our software is accessible for all users. In this article, we sat down with Francis Ramirez, Senior Educational Technologist and Androgogic's Web Accessibility Lead, to discuss the ins and outs of Web Accessibility.

What is Accessibility?

When Accessibility is brought up, many people start thinking about checklists, compliance or <alt> tags. However, it is so much more than that. 

According to Francis, Accessibility is essentially about the human concerns—not the checklists. Questions like “Can a person do their job, no matter the situation they’re in? Can they access and consume the critical information they need to do the tasks they need in the system?” are the best ways to define Accessibility.

Sometimes a disability is temporary; sometimes it is permanent. No matter the situation someone is in, if they’re using an Accessible system, they should be able to do the job they need to do. 

What do people get wrong about Accessibility?

Organisations go astray as soon as they take a reactive approach to Accessibility. The later in a project it is discussed, the harder and more expensive it becomes to implement. If Accessibility is only considered after a project is completed, when it fails to meet the needs of a group of users, a reputational cost is paid by the organisation as well.

If your organisation is only considering Accessibility as a matter of compliance during the testing and evaluation phases of development, it’s already too late and you and your stakeholders will bear the cost.

With that in mind, read on to find out how we can make more Accessible software.

How can we make software more Accessible?

Instead of being reactive, organisations developing Accessible learning technologies should take a more proactive approach. This means moving an Accessibility focus from late in a project (eg. at the testing and evaluation phase), to the very start. 

Francis believes, “Accessibility should at least be discussed in the planning phase. At best, it’s discussed when the project is initiated. If a system is Accessible by design, it is Accessible by default.”

Furthermore, embedding Accessibility into the core priorities of the organisation makes doing the work easier over time. Focus on creating policies that centre Accessibility in software and in practice around the workplace, teaching new hires and existing hires, and advocating for change. 

“If the conversation is ongoing, things become easier. You don’t have to keep inducting people into developing and maintaining Accessible systems—it’s just part of life in the organisation.”

What’s next?

Francis emphasises the enormous benefits of Accessible learning systems, highlighting that the more Accessible a system is, the more usable it is. 

“Many organisations speak about Accessibility as a compliance issue, but it should be a quality measure, feature of what they do. Just like saying ‘our systems are secure’, organisations can say, ‘our systems are Accessible. It’s something we are proud of.” 

Want to get in touch with a provider of learning technologies that knows accessibility? Get in touch