Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

11 Basic Tips for Making Learning Content Accessible

(This is the first article of a series of useful learning content design tips from dominKnow Knowledge Base.)

Designing online courseware so that it’s accessible to all people takes careful planning, development, and delivery.

Accessible means usable by people who are blind or who have low vision, people with impaired mobility, people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, people who are color-blind, people with a minimal command of the language, and people with a cognitive disability.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has issued a set of guidelines for web accessibility. There are checkpoints applied to three priorities that help a designer evaluate whether their content is accessible or difficult or impossible to navigate.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act in the United States requires Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities.

The Canadian law of accessibility is derived from a number of sources including Equality Rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Human Rights Act, and provincial codes. Similar laws, rights, and codes can be found in most countries.

Basic tips for making content accessible

  • Provide alternative text (alt-text) for elements that are not plain text, e.g., graphics, images, shapes, charts, and buttons. Alt-text should be succinct. It should explain the purpose and function of the image/element (not just a description).  NOTE: Redundant and decorative images do not generally require alt-text. Alt-text should not identify the type of element (e.g., “Image of…”) since most screen readers are set to announce the type of element.
  • Provide synchronized captions for audio and video (including description of visual action, settings, body language, graphics and displayed text). Each piece of multimedia you use should have at least a summary or closed captioning for those that are unable to fully experience it. (YouTube has a CC feature where you can easily upload a transcript that will be automatically synced with your video.)
  • Provide user controls for playing audio and video.
  • Avoid blinking objects or text.
  • Avoid adding constantly moving objects or text.
  • Any controls manipulated by a mouse must be able to be manipulated by the keyboard.
  • Use more than just color to differentiate buttons (avoid red/green combinations which can be particularly difficult for color-blind people to distinguish between).
  • Use colors that have sufficient contrast for readability.
  • Make sure that attached documents (e.g., PDF files) have been produced as accessible documents.
  • Link text should make sense out of context (avoid using only Click Here, Read More, Continue, or URLs unless they are descriptive and include relevant content).
  • HTML content is more accessible than other formats. Always test the accessibility of any content you add that is in Flash, PDF, and Office document formats.


To add alt-text in CLARO

dominKnow’s flagship product, CLARO, is a feature packed, web-based collaborative eLearning authoring platform for creating, managing, and delivering learning content that can be authored once and published to all platforms.

Since pages created in CLARO are HTML 5-based, text on screen is easily accessible to screen reader devices commonly used by learners with visual impairments. You should ensure other content you add is accessible.

Alt-text is easily added to images and other shapes in CLARO.

  • Alt-text for images uploaded to CLARO will initially be the original file name. You should ensure you apply contextual alt-text to images in use on your course pages.
  • Double-click an image, shape or hotspot on your page to open the Properties right panel. Enter alternative text in the Alt Text field (or remove the alt-text if the image is redundant or decorative). Click the Update button.

For more information, see the following resources:

W3C Web Accessibility Initiative
Guidelines, techniques, discussions and information on making web content accessible, as well as managing and evaluating accessibility.

Section 508 Standards
This site contains lots of information about the law which requires U.S. federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities, under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. It has links to many other resources.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: see Equality Rights

Canadian Human Rights Act: see Discriminatory Practices

Ontario Human Rights

CodeWebAIM: Web Accessibility in Mind


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