Ways to Make Your Online Course More Accessible

When talking about user accessibility to online learning, the conversation is usually around things such as W3C web accessibility standards or the Section 508 law and standards in the United States. These are important initiatives to make online material accessible for individuals with disabilities. However, there is also a broader perspective that can be taken toward this issue. There are  ways to improve the accessibility of your online course for all learners. These include clear language, logical organization, intuitive navigation, clean graphic design and handy help prompts

Clear Language

Course content should be written in a stripped-down, straight-forward, first-person, conversational tone, with a minimum of jargon. The expression of ideas, theories and concepts in plain language breaks down the barriers to learning the course content.

Logical Organization

You should present learners with a crystal clear roadmap from the outset of the course of where you will be taking them. Your course should follow a logical and easily understood structure and sequencing of content, learning activities and assessment activities.  Learners shouldn’t have to search through the course to find out what is expected of them and when.

Intuitive Navigation

Use a simple and intuitive navigation structure with easily-understood links. Always provide a way for learners to get back to the course home page. Do not provide one-way drilling that makes it easy to get lost in the guts of a course. Do not have multiple windows open within a course whereby learners can lose their way.

Clean Graphic Design

To improve accessibility of your online course:

  • breakup text into shorter sections
  • intersperse appropriate photos, icons, graphics, and white space
  • be consistent in the use of font types, colours, alignment, etc.
  • strive for a clean, clutter-free presentation and
  • provide focal points and a consistent hierarchy of information so the learner knows what is important. 

Handy Help Prompts

Embed help prompts and “how to’s” throughout your course. For example, if you ask learners to create RTF documents for their assignments and to upload these to the course site, provide some easily-understood directions on how to do this.

Following these tips will make your online course more accessible to learners, thereby increasing learner engagement and the chances for learner success.

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