E-learning is a perfect method for reaching your varied workforce, ensuring everyone can access digital training materials.

Initially, people believed e-learning would be ineffective as it would remove the human element of learning, however, as time has progressed, technology has developed meaning transforming it into a valuable learning resource.

What is e-learning?

E-learning refers to learning that is delivered via technology to access educational curriculums outside of a traditional classroom environment. E-learning offers the ability to share material in all kinds of formats such as videos, slideshows, word documents and PDFs.

Conducting webinars and communicating with professors via chat and message forums is also an option that ensures learners can still contact other humans to learn and ask questions.

How is e-learning becoming more accessible?

Organisations have a legal duty to make ‘reasonable’ adjustments to ensure content is accessible for people with disabilities. It’s estimated that around 20.8% of the working-age population in the UK has a disability – that’s more than 8 million people.

So if e-learning is not designed with accessibility in mind, it is rendered useless for a large proportion of the workforce. Luckily, e-learning can be built specifically for each organisation and so making it accessible for each company, and their employee's needs are possible.

Moreover, due to advancements in technology, e-learning can now be accessed via tablets, phones or a computer, which can remove the need to physically write, instead of using videos and touchscreen to improve ease of use.

Why is it important for e-learning to be accessible?

Accessible e-learning provides everyone with a platform to learn, with their specific needs in mind. Additionally, since it can be accessed across numerous mediums, it gives people the opportunity to learn on the go.

It is important to give employees the opportunity to learn via e-learning as it allows them to take control of their learning and provides fair opportunities to all your staff. Some staff can learn more quickly than others, e-learning offers the opportunity for those who prefer to learn more gradually, less pressure and more time to learn.

How can sites ensure accessibility for their e-learning?

Sites can ensure that e-learning is accessible in numerous ways, for example, for visually impaired learners it can be made to be accessed via only using a keyboard. To make content accessible for visually impaired and colour blind learners, there needs to be a good contrast between foreground and background colours,  ensuring that colour is not used to convey information, for example by asking learners to click on the green button.

For those who are deaf, employers could provide captions for video audio content and ensure that these are enabled across the learning materials.

It’s also a good idea to avoid using instructions like ‘click the button to continue’ as this may not be the way a learner with a disability moves through the course.

Photographs, illustrations and icons need to be described using ALT text, this describes what the image is and can be read out via a dictation system, to the learner.