Section 508 Compliance Services

A course designer is organizing the user accessibility features of a menu. SilkWeb can help you ensure that your e-learning courses are Section 508 compliant. We offer Section 508 compliance services as part of a comprehensive e-learning solution. We ensure compliance by personalizing the learning experience from the beginning of each project.

SilkWeb provides accessibility instructions at the beginning of each e-learning course, so your learners with impairments are able to easily navigate your course. Keyboard shortcuts and other alternatives are identified upfront, so all learners know how to best navigate the course for their situation. For example, if a learner identifies as visually impaired at those learners will be able to hear through audio narration that all text-based descriptions of videos can be interpreted by a screen reader.

Considerations for Hearing-Impaired Learners

SilkWeb understands the requirements needed to meet Section 508 compliance. We have worked with a variety of state and federal organizations to implement pre and post compliance for websites, e-learning courses, and other training materials. When designing materials for hearing-impaired learners, it is necessary to follow these guidelines:

  • Add Closed Captions
  • Provide a Transcript
  • Don't Use Timed Tests

Closed captions assist those with hearing impairments and those who are second language learners as it helps them to understand the content. Captions are useful for learners who have a noisy working environment. Using a transcript is an effective and simple way to provide learners with a downloadable attachment for the entire course, or they can be added to each screen in a SCORM packaged e-learning course. It is essential to include details in the text transcript that are being conveyed visually in images or videos, so learners will have all the information they need to follow along. We also advise against the use of timed assessments as learners need to use the accessible alternatives that have been added, which may take extra time.

Considerations for Mobility-Impaired Learners

When designing materials for mobility-impaired learners, it is necessary to follow these guidelines:

  • Add Keyboard Shortcuts
  • Provide Alternatives for Drag-and-Drop Interactions
  • Don't Rely on Roll-Overs and Pop-Ups
  • Don't Use Timed Tests.

Keyboard shortcuts allow learners to move to the next slide without having to use a mouse to click forward. Instead, learners press a specific key to make the same motion. Drag-and-drop interactions require a mouse for navigation, making them difficult or impossible to use for mobility-impaired learners. If you feel that they are necessary for your course design, then a text-based alternative should be made available. A better method is to use a keyboard-accessible interaction such as a multiple-choice question or a sliding interaction.

Rollover effects, also known as hover states, should not be the only method used to convey important information. The content in the rollover or pop-up box is not accessible. While it's okay to change the color of a button when a mouse hovers over it – it is different than displaying content in a hover text box. If such design is unavoidable, then a keyboard shortcut should be created to play an audio version of the feedback for those not able to use a mouse. We also advise against the use of timed assessments for mobility-impaired learners since they may need more time to use the accessible alternatives that have been added to the e-learning course.

Considerations for Visually Impaired Learners

Blocks with various labels such as rules, law, and compliance stamped on them. Visual impairments cover a broad spectrum, including low vision, color blindness, and total blindness. Some learners may also find it difficult to read on-screen text due to learning disabilities or because English is a second language for them. When designing materials for visually impaired learners, it is necessary to follow these additional guidelines:

  • Add Alternate Text for Screen Readers
  • Customize the Menu and Tabs
  • Use Tables to Organize Text
  • Increase the Player Font Size
  • Provide Text-Based Alternatives for Animations
  • Don't AutoPlay Videos
  • Use Text with a Contrast Ratio
  • Don't Rely on Color Alone to Convey Meaning
  • Offer an Audio Alternative for On-Screen Text

Visually-impaired learners often use screen readers such as JAWS, NVDA, VoiceOver, and TalkBack. Alternative text is critical for learners with screen readers, and it is easy to add in during the writing and design process. Alternative text should convey the same content and information presented by the object or image and should not skimp on relevant information. There is no need for it to be redundant either.

The menu and order of tabs are essential for learners with screen readers. Provide instructions for how to complete questions and for fill in areas in the course. It will be confusing to a learner if they tab directly to a data-entry field and don't know what is expected. Be sure to add alternative text and a meaningful tab order to tables and cells as well. Don't shy away from using tables in your e-learning course. Tables provide valuable information to screen readers about how content is organized.

You should increase any player's font size, whether it's for a video or an e-learning module. How to increase the font size should be explained upfront in your accessibility instructions.

If you plan to use animations, whether they are 2D or 3D, you will need to provide context and offer a text-based alternative for visually impaired learners. When using videos, whether they are embedded into an e-learning course or comprise the entire learning strategy, you do not want to start playing videos automatically. Visually-impaired learners require full control of video playback. In addition, if you are talking about a step-by-step process, then you should provide a text document that details the steps and instructions for the screen reader.

Some learners have low vision rather than total blindness or may have color blindness. To make your course accessible for these learners, you must use on-screen text with a contrast ratio of 4.5:1 or higher and an appropriate contrast ratio. Sometimes we need to use color to convey meaning, if it cannot be avoided, then we need to offer text, audio, or image equivalents for learners with color blindness. A typical example is using green to denote correct responses and red to indicate incorrect responses. Include audio or on-screen text to convey the same information for learners who can't distinguish between the colors of green and red. And don't rely on color alone to indicate a hyperlink to a website or document download. The hyperlinked text should include an underline when it has a link. Provide instructions for images with links, so learners know they're interactive.

Some learners may be able to see your course but prefer to listen rather than read. Consider offering an audio version of text-based slides for these learners. For example, you might play optional narration when learners click a speaker icon or press a keyboard shortcut.

There are many other facets to Section 508 compliance but these ones represent the primary concerns that should be researched prior to starting any course development project. When you work with SilkWeb you can rest assured that we take your Section 508 concerns seriously. Please contact us to learn more about how we can help you maintain or implement Section 508 compliance in your e-learning strategies.