Accessibility and 508 compliance
Accessible learning solutions for people with disabilities
First, a bit of background.
In 1998, the U.S. Congress established the Section 508 accessibility requirements of the Rehabilitation Act to ensure that all electronic and information technology that the federal government procures, uses, or develops must be accessible to people with disabilities. Since then, the Web Accessibility Initiative of the W3C Consortium further extended these web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG 1.0 and 2.0).
Illumina is committed to helping clients make their e-learning applications accessible to people with disabilities, including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, and others. Illumina's experience with accessible applications includes a long history of developing e-learning solutions for U.S. federal government agencies – these include the Veterans Administration, Office of Head Start, Environmental Protection Agency, National Institutes of Health, and Housing and Urban Development, among others, as well as firms that serve the government.
More recently, accessibility has increasingly become an important objective for many of our non-government clients as well.
Approaches to Accessibility
At Illumina, we make sure to use e-learning software development tools that can build accessible applications, and we test our courseware with assistive devices such as the JAWS screen reader. We have engaged groups such as the National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH as well as the Accessibility Services Group at the Carroll Center for the Blind to evaluate and audit our applications.
Developing fully accessible e-learning applications isn’t easy. It often needs to start at the beginning of a project, with the instructional designer consulting with the developer to explore how intricate interactivity can be made accessible or how a comparable accessible experience can be implemented for use with a screen reader.
Contact Illumina to learn more about accessibility and Section 508 compliance and how it affects e-learning development. For more information about the law, you also can visit www.section508.gov.