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Designing and Developing Accessible Training Content

Oak Grove accessibility specialists have ground-floor involvement in developing online courses with media and interactive assets to increase learning for an audience of people with disabilities as well as people without disabilities. Disabilities can include any combination of blindness and low vision, color blindness, deafness, limited movement, and photosensitivity. We have also created accessible documents from Word, Excel, and PDF files, and provided live closed-captioning services for webinars. Our staff includes a 5.0 DHS 508 Trusted Tester who is qualified to test and certify courses and documents as 508 compliant on behalf of our clients, including VA.

Our success depends not only on staying current with industry guidelines and requirements such as Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, emerging technologies like Web Accessibility Initiative – Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA), but also with the expectations of assistive technology users.

Our approach for developing accessible content begins when projects are in the analysis and design phases. We include accessibility standards for each project. We also include accessibility reviews in the design phase. For example, even though Oak Grove’s instructional designers are experienced in designing for accessibility, an internal accessibility specialist and course developer assess the storyboard for each online course. Compliance issues are solved, and strategies are implemented before programming begins. As well, Oak Grove developers have experience in programming accessible interactivity and media assets for online learning. Instructional designers can consult with them at any time in a project lifecycle.

Accessible Interactivity in an Online Course

Our learning products are tested internally using industry standard tools like ANDI (Accessible Name & Description Inspector) for HTML-type content, JAWS (Job Access With Speech) screen reader for interactivity, and a color-contrast checker. Document software from Microsoft and Adobe Acrobat have built-in accessibility checkers and remediation capabilities that we leverage as well.

Challenges

Accessibility guidelines are not specific about how accessibility is accomplished, so they are open to interpretation by federal agencies and even individual accessibility testers.

Solution

It is important to listen to and learn from assistive technology users. Oak Grove accessibility specialists have a long history of collaboration with 508-compliance reviewers who are assistive technology users. They’ve learned, for example, that providing too much descriptive information in an alternative text field (alt text) for a graphic can actually confuse or annoy assistive technology users. As a result, our internal reviewers may ask an instructional designer a) if a graphic enhances the learning on a page (versus being decorative) and b) if the graphic is described in onscreen text or by narration. This is because the alt text field for a decorative image or one that is already described should have no descriptive content. Moreover, when alt text is needed for a graphic that enhances learning, it should be brief and to the point.

CLIENT:

Multiple Government Agencies

MARKET:

Federal Government

NATURE OF WORK:

Accessible Training Materials

RESULTS:

For over a decade, Oak Grove has successfully developed accessible training materials for several federal agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA has led the curve in requiring a high degree of conformance to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, which requires that U.S. federal government agencies develop, procure, and maintain, information and communication technology accessible to persons with disabilities.

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