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5 Accessibility Tips to Help Improve Your Educational Content

By: Aylin Dunham

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Are You Evaluating Your Educational Content for Accessibility?

Our clients have many great ideas about expanding accessibility, but one of the biggest factors in getting started is deciding what tools, accessibility tips, and resources to use for your organization.

Last year, we discussed the principles Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in our blog post about creating inclusive learning environments. We covered how captions and audio description can enhance learning and create a more inclusive learning environment. In another discussion, we also talked about “Accessibility Nudge Units” on our blog, noting how “nudges” like providing a well-designed choice architecture can improve an organization’s accessibility practices and save money at the same time. These are all great ideas, but we thought it would also be useful to take a more grass-roots approach to help expand accessibility at your organization. In this article, we’ve reviewed five accessibility tips to help you with your accessibility needs.

Accessibility Tips

1. Read Whitepapers

One of the most useful accessibility tools we’ve come across in our company history is reading whitepaper publications. These publications are widely available to the public and are often free, giving people the opportunity to learn about useful and complex information that would not otherwise be available. Best of all, whitepapers give in-depth and easy to read reports of important accessibility tools and laws. We encourage you to look up whitepapers in order to learn more about how you can improve accessibility for your content. For your convenience, AST has also published various whitepapers that address video accessibility issues relevant to education, government, and other types of organizations.

Book cover for Applying the Principles of Universal Design for Learning to Educational Video by Courtney Deurig and Art Morgan

2. Choose an Accessible Content Management System (CMS)

There are so many available content management systems today that choosing which system to use can be a daunting endeavor. One of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing a system is to consider who will be managing it and who will be using the it. We recommend reviewing your own websites for accessibility criteria, including its compatibility with screen readers, ease of use, alternative text on images, and more. The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is an excellent point of reference for those looking to improve accessibility for their websites and content management systems.

3. Choose an Accessible Video Player

As a post-production captioning provider, we understand that video content is increasingly being used and more so with the rise of online educational content. For this reason, one of the most important things to think about when expanding your accessibility is choosing an accessible video player for your content. There are so many options to choose from that it can feel overwhelming but a key measure of importance is determining if the video player will work for all viewers. At AST, our CaptionSync Smart Player™ has many accessibility features that you may consider for your content, including captioning and audio description features. This video player also has interactive transcript features that move captioning beyond its original purpose, taking advantage of the captioning data to create a more accessible and engaging viewing experience for all.

Image showing example of CaptionSync Smart Player with captions and audio description

4. Talk to Others About the Importance of Accessibility

Talking with others about the importance of accessibility is really important. Often times, beginning the conversation around accessibility is the first step to improvement, and it’s possible that other people on your team may know more about accessibility than you previously thought. Last year, we talked about “Accessibility Nudge Units” in some of our blog posts and how “nudges” like initiating conversation about a given topic and providing a well-designed choice architecture can improve an organization’s accessibility practices while saving money at the same time. Consider talking to others about the importance of accessibility and use this technique to nudge others in the right direction.

5. Speak to an Accessibility Expert

Last but not least, speaking to an accessibility expert is one of the greatest ways to get started. Accessibility experts are not only full of knowledge but can also direct you to some of the useful accessibility tools you may need for your organization. We encourage you to reach out to AST if you’d like to talk about video accessibility in your organization. Another way to start evaluating you web accessibility is to consider using tools like the WAVE Web Accessibility Tool from WebAIM, which runs an accessibility scan on a webpage to check for errors. Deque has a similar tool called Axe, which can be used either as a browser plug-in or via an API.  In addition to this, you can also start off by reviewing criteria for selecting web accessibility tools put together by the Web Accessibility Initiative.

Final Thoughts

We hope these accessibility tips will inspire you to improve accessibility practices in your organization. At AST, one of our most important missions to help others succeed in reaching their accessibility goals. If you have any video accessibility needs, feel free to reach out to us and we would be happy to “nudge” you in the right direction.

Thanks for checking in!