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508 Resources Guide _Blog Header

At this year’s DevLearn, our very own Chris Willis presented an eLearning Rockstars Learning Stage session called Making 508 Accessible to Developers. Accessibility and 508-compliance are hot topics in the eLearning world and Chris is both knowledgeable and passionate about bringing learning to as many people as possible.

Chris Willis, eLearning Brothers, presenting on 508 and accessibility at DevLearn

During her session, Chris was asked to share some of her 508 resources with attendees. She’s gathered them together here.


Why make accessible eLearning content? For a few different reasons:




Improve the lives of people with disabilities

Capitalize on a wider audience or consumer base Avoid costly lawsuits and/or bad press


What’s this WCAG thing?

WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) is a set of guidelines for making content accessible for all users, including those with disabilities. You can find many WCAG resources and explanations at W3.org or the WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind) website. Two great places to start are the WCAG or WCAG 2 checklists—depending on which iteration you are trying to conform to.


The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 2.0 standard:

  • outlines best practices for making web content universally POUR:
    • Perceivable
    • Operable
    • Understandable
    • Robust
  • Defines criteria for successful inclusive [eLearning] design, with compliance levels A, AA, and AAA
  • Is composed and reviewed by a global community of digital experts
  • Connects the world through common information technology and user experience standards


Follow this link to learn more about the differences between WCAG 1.0, WCAG 2.0, and WCAG 2.1:


Here’s a WCAG 2 Quick Reference Guide from the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative:


Program Maturity

The US government has set some guidelines in place to help companies and agencies self-report where they are in terms of 508-compliance program maturity. It’s helpful to have a general understanding of these stages to guide your own 508 journey.

  • Ad Hoc: No formal policies, process or procedures defined.
  • Planned: Policies, processes and procedures defined and communicated.
  • Resourced: Resources committed and/or staff trained to implement policies, processes and procedures.
  • Measured: Validation is performed; results are measured and tracked.



Making accessible learning actually improves the learning experience for ALL learners! Check it out:

Disability Impairment Accessibility Needs All Learners Appreciate
Auditory Disability Unable to hear clearly or at all (deaf) Text captions for any audio Ability to take a course in a loud workplace; privacy
Visual Disability Vision-impaired or blind Screen reader user —–
Mobility Impaired Motor impairment; Little or no use of hands Tab Key or modified input hardware Speed scan or review course
Learning Disability Difficulty reading or processing information Chunk and organize information; use headings; no timed interactions Better learning and retention for all!


Alternative text (alt text)

In Chris’s 508 session, she gave some examples of how to word alt text for images to really describe what’s happening in the image and be helpful to the learner.

For example, suppose your course included this image:

“eLearning Brothers employees pictured with a man who just won an iPad for scheduling a Customizable Courseware demo at DevLearn.

Your alt text could read “group of people holding tablets,” but what does that really tell you about the photo? A better alt text would be “eLearning Brothers employees pictured with a man who just won an iPad for scheduling a Customizable Courseware demo at DevLearn.” That alt text gives you so much more context about who the people are and why we care that they are holding tablets.

Check out the Social Security Administration Guide: Alternate text for detailed guidelines and examples for writing useful alt text. https://www.ssa.gov/accessibility/files/SSA_Alternative_Text_Guide.pdf

Screen Readers

For blind people to use a computer, they need a screen reader which reads the text on the screen in a synthetic voice or with a braille display. Screen readers can be very expensive. Chris shared an alternative option, a free, open source screen reader.


Color contrast is huge for accessibility!

Here are two great resources to make sure you’re not leaving the visually impaired out:


We’ll be sharing the full video of Chris’s 508 presentation from DevLearn 2018 soon, but hopefully, this list of resources gives you a great starting point on your accessibility journey.

What’s next? Read more instructional design articles on the blog and sign up for a free Template Library account to practice your new skills!


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