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Moving Forward: Overcoming Life's Challenges

OVERVIEW:

Moving Forward: Overcoming Life’s Challenges is an interactive web-based course geared toward coaching Veterans and Service Members through life’s challenges. This program is a collaborative effort between the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan often feel overwhelmed by their life stressors, but are reluctant to seek mental health treatment. The course consists of eight modules that provide practical tools and skills that users can apply immediately.

CHALLENGES:

The Moving Forward program provides the users the opportunity to practice the skills they are learning by implementing the problem solving process using a challenge they are currently experiencing.  This involves dynamically completing a Problem Solving Worksheet as the learner proceeds through the course.  The Problem Solving Worksheet represents a particular design challenge, as the course is built to run without a database or the need for an LMS in order to assure participants anonymity and confidentiality. 

A major challenge we face is the provision of meaningful interactive courseware that is responsive to all learners, allowing them to actively participate in the learning process.

 

SOLUTIONS:

Through the use of various interactive approaches such as simulation and branching and a focus on the needs of the learner Moving Forward allows learners to guide their instructional paths to meet their needs and even more so spark further discovery.

The entire Moving Forward program was designed and constructed to conform to Section 508 accessibility standards. The development team’s goal was to ensure that Veterans with visual and/or auditory impairments would be able to access not some but all of the content and interactivities in the course.

The Moving Forward course is a media rich, interactive course in which accessible design was considered and applied throughout the development process. The development team provided their ideas for activities to a group of VA Section 508 experts early in the design process and developed a strong collaborative working relationship throughout the lifespan of this project.

The development team applied the following methods in order to meet Section 508 accessibility standards:

Learning / Cognition Impairment:
Avoided use of too many abstract images
Used each image for a specific educational purpose, not just for decoration
Used charts/diagrams to illustrate complicated process or concepts
Standardized and maintained reading levels to a consistent 7th grade level so that those with cognition challenges could utilize the course

Mobility Impairment:
Created large clickable graphics for navigation
Provided visual cues for keyboard interactions

Visual Impairment:
Used sufficient size of images to support readability
Ensured sufficient contrast between foreground and background in  images
Provided descriptions for every images

Hearing Impairment:
Used icons as cues for audio/video scripts
Used Closed Captioning throughout the course