Creating Accessible Learning Content for Better Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

While it has been on the radar for some time, the concept of diversity͕ equity and inclusion (DEI) has recently grown in importance and become a critical priority for many organizations. In Brandon Hall Group’s annual HCM Outlook Study, DEI is the number two most critical business priority͕ for 2022, second only to improving the customer experience. Additionally͕, 61% of organizations say it is either important or critical that they develop inclusive leaders for the business to be successful.

And while organizations have been doing a good job of building DEI programs and providing training for both leaders and the workforce at large, it is also important that the spirit of DEI is woven deeper into the employee experience. A key to making this happen is understanding and embracing accessibility. Beyond just making content available on-demand, it’s about making sure that people with various disabilities can also access and use the content. This is for people who may have any visual, hearing, motor, or cognitive disabilities.

Accessibility concerns the structure and containers that hold information, the way learners receive information, and the way information is formatted and then presented. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has compiled a set of formal, global Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) that explain how to make web and training content accessible to people with disabilities. 

But just because these guidelines exist does not make accessibility a simple task. Fortunately, many content creation tools include accessibility features that are based on WCAG compliance. But that doesn’t mean everyone using the tools understands just how to leverage this functionality.

Brandon Hall Group Preferred Provider Harbinger has a great deal of experience helping their clients meet their accessibility needs. They have a framework they leverage to guide L&D teams through the process. This includes:

  • Auditing existing courses for WCAG compliance
  • Making recommendations for improvements
  • Creating a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT)
  • Making the learning system/platform accessible
  • Training the L&D team for future accessibility

For example, Harbinger worked with an Association based in Washington, D.C. with about 118,000 members to bring their training content into WCAG 2.0 AA compliance. This included hundreds of tutorials, quick guides, and other resources. Harbinger modernized the content and at the same time brought it into compliance within 4 months. The materials were tested by an independent third party to ensure accessibility and passed completely.

This kind of expertise is becoming increasingly important as companies continue to raise their DEI profile while accessibility compliance regulations become more common. Accessibility in learning content means organizations are providing the most personalized, meaningful learning experiences they can. A more in-depth case study can be found here.

David Wentworth, Principal Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

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