Visual impairment and Engagement

Jun 30, 2015

I'm wondering how people have managed engagement and activities with those who are visually impaired?

We created a course that has drag and drop questions, drag and match questions, hover pop-ups, and an info-graphic that requires the user to click on the picture to learn more about it. It was recently brought to our attention by a new summer intern with visual impairment that our course does not work for her with the JAWS program. Any thing that requires mouse movement doesn't work.

We are currently trying to figure out the best way to accommodate her needs, but would hate to recreate the course and remove these elements. What have been some of the solutions that others have come up with? I am trying to brainstorm and come up with a few suggestions that would fit our organization before I take the issue to my leadership team.


8 Replies
David Ward

When an elearning element has a highly interactive design -- particularly if it involves extensive use of a pointing device -- it's often unfeasible to program it in a manner that is accessible to a visually-impaired learner and retain the element's original design. One option is to change the design so that it can be accessible but the new design sometimes is inferior for learners who use a pointing device.

However, if it's Section 508 compliance you're concerned about, you have another option. Keep your original design for the element and also design another way to present the same content that is focused on being accessible to learners who use a screen reader. Then make a link for those learners from the slide with the original design to the slide with the accessible design. It's often easier to design and develop the element twice, each optimized for the respective audiences, than it is to come up with a single execution that meets the needs of both audiences.

David Ward

It sounds like a learning opportunity for your company. People who have lived with disabilities come to realize that things cannot always be the same for the as it is for everyone else. Instead of being upset that an accessible adaptation is different than the standard courseware, they learn to appreciate that they are being offered an accessible adaptation.

I just returned from Yosemite National Park. I was very appreciative of the National Park Service (NPS) for forging a trail that I could negotiate in my power wheelchair right up to the base of Yosemite Falls and another to the overlook at Glacier Point. Then I went to Bridalveil Fall and found that I could not get much closer to that fall than the parking lot.

But I did not get upset at the NPS for failing to pave a concrete path and install a wheelchair lift right up to the base because I realized that it would detract from the Bridalveil Fall experience for all the other visitors. Instead, I was thankful for the lengths they went to to make the park as accessible as they could without detracting from the overall nature of the experience for everyone.

Terry Springer

As a developer I think the key to creating an accessible course is working with the individual that is creating the course content. They need to understand that how they write and design the course has a major impact on how easily it is to make it accessible. With planning you can create a course that doesn't require an alternate accessible version.

It doesn't have to be boring. Here's an example of a drag and drop I created that engages those that can use a mouse and accommodate those that are restricted to using a keyboard. And it's JAWS accessible.


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