Can anyone help me understand how you assess the accessibility of an e-learning course?  I'm trying to find guidelines that are specific to e-learning but I seem to only be able to find guidelines relating to web design.


Also, what should be the evaluation criteria for assessing usability in e-learning courses that would be sensible and practical?


All help will be very gratefully received!  Thanks.  Julie.

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Thanks both, I really appreciate this. The help I have received just goes to show how useful being a member of this group is.

I'll report back in a few days once I've got my head around all of this. The project is related to e-learning material that has already been built (not by me) so it's all a bit "cart before the horse ...." have a great weekend. bws, J.
Hi Julie,

If it's already been built, and it's in Flash, then the only way of doing accessibility testing is manually.

As far as I know, there's no automated accessibility test that works on Flash content.

Hi Julie

Becta has done a lot of work in this area and so has an organisation called TechDis The best people to contact in Becta are Rob Englebright ( and Terry Waller ( Rob is very hot on standards and Terry heads up inclusion and accessibility. At TechDis, I suggest you contact Alistair McNaught

I am sure that they will be able to help and if they don't they will know who can.

HI Lesley

Many thanks for the link to Techdis and the contacts. I had found the JISC stuff which has been a great help but I do have questions so your share of contacts will be really helpful.


Some simple guidelines in producing documents and slideshows may be useful. PowerPoints should be created with the notes pages, so that if the PowerPoint is saved to a VLE such as Moodle, then the student who is accessing it will also get to see the user notes as opposed to just the key statements and words that should only appear on a PowerPoint.
All documents produced should be mapped or with an interactive table of contents so that a Dyslexic or Visually Impaired student does not have to wade through loads of text to find key areas when revising or revisiting that document. Tools such as Mind Genius will do this for you by creating heading styles when exporting from the mind map into Word, which your table of contents will pick up, thus producing an interactive or bookmarked index.
These guidelines are useful for all students, but bear in mind that there are so many free tools out there to help students access their course, don't beat yourself up too much creating something that may actually limit other users. If you put the term accessible apps into Google, you will find 50 free downloadable apps that will make life so much easier for students with specific learning difficulties, screen reader, reading ruler, screen tinter, and loads of others.
Hope that helps a bit, there is no point creating background colours or font sizes, as this will vary according to user, but Comic Sans is the preferred font although it tends to be overused in marketing, but it is the only font with a non Roman 'a', get back to me if you want more details or have a look at the TechDis website, especially the toolbar.
Hi Dave

Many thanks for this post, as with others it extends the information source and gives me more to research. I am discovering how difficult it is to get information directly related to e-learning content as so much of the advice is biased towards website design. I started a catalogue of accessibility tools that I came across a few years back, but I am now realising that what I had collected was only a fraction of what is out there. I will explore the tools you mention and add them to my catalogue. I was not aware of the Comic Sans issue for the non Roman "a" that's really interesting and very relevant to what I am doing.

Many thanks,


Hi Julie,

We've produced a series of blog posts on exactly this subject, which may be useful to you.

These cover:

1- How to make e-learning accessible - thinking inclusively
2- How to make e-learning accessible - design tips and tricks
3- How to make e-learning accessible - the learner's experience

My colleague has also just written a round up on July's e-Access '10 Conference and explores where the priorities lie in terms of accessibility, which can be read here.

Good luck with your project!

HI Sam

Thankyou for your posts - I read your blog posts so I already had them on radar, so I hope other people that might be interested in the subject find them as they are very good and explain things very well I think. I have recommended them widely.

The E-Access stuff is really helpful - thank you again, more for me to research!

Thanks again!

best wishes,

Hi Julie and other contributors to this discussion: Many thanks for all the ideas which are extremely useful and relevant since I have been invited twice in the past week to give feedback on different elearning programmes aimed at promoting equality and access in the workplace.

I have been concerned of late with a trend for avoiding Flash in developing elearning products in an effort to be inclusive. My personal view is that learners should be provided with choice - text, voice and video and all should engage the participants with opportunities for interactivity.

Here is a very good site - currently running a competition on accessible design - run by by National Council for the Blind in Ireland:
Regards, Gabrielle
Hi Gabrielle,

These days, there's really no need to use Flash to provide "opportunities for interactivity". Most things, including drag & drop can be accomplished using HTML, CSS & Javascript. The only reason to use Flash (until HTML5 becomes more widely accepted), is to deliver audio and video.


Hi Mark - I'm not techie enough to know the difference in look and feel of something developed with Javascript, CSS or Flash. I know what I like using and the Flash products are so much better, slicker etc. that they make learning fun; the video and sound is critical for over-coming literacy/language barriers. I know it's probably more expensive but what we want is something that appeals to as many learners as possible and that's where I think the choice is important. Much of the so-called 'accessible' products I've seen are frankly quite boring.
Hi Gabrielle
I'm no techie either, and the piece I am working on is built in Flash. I am finding that although you cannot automatically check Flash for Accessibility there are ways to make Flash accessible, and I am assessing how realistic these ways are. The e-learning piece is absolutely fantastic and I really love the way it has been put together for exactly the reasons you highlight, but it has to be inclusive, so I have the challenge of making it so! Over the last week I have learned a lot of technical stuff that I would have otherwise avoided, but for this project I believe it is worth the studying. My focus is always to look at things from the learner's point of view and to put myself in the position of someone requiring e-learning to be accessible has been both fascinating and humbling. What I have also learned is that this is going to be a much bigger project than I originally anticipated, but I feel sure it will be worth it. bws, J.



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