Understanding ADA Compliant Design Characteristics

Complying with ADA design standards not only benefits individuals with disabilities, but also enhances the overall design, functionality and value of the course. That’s why practicing universal design is a key component to overall design success.

Video
Interesting videos can dramatically improve instructional design; they are an excellent supplement to any training course and help the learner retain information by using multiple senses. For a person who is visually impaired descriptive and engaging narrative stimulates their auditory senses, while using multiple narrators gives the video added depth, character and range. For learners with auditory impairments, try using closed-captioning or a printable version of the video script to better meet their unique needs and give them an alternative way to view and learn the material.

Images
Alternative (alt) tags are text-based descriptions used to provide an accurate description of the image displayed.  Current and up-to-date images with functional alt tags make materials less distracting and confusing, and more relevant to the user.

Audio
Audio is a non-visual element in a training program, so incorporating both audio and text content in a course is crucial to enhancing learning and understanding.  These elements should remain fluid and consistent with each other throughout the course to be most effective; making sure the text on the screen matches the message communicated through the audio. Providing both audio and text content in your training program allows you to better support the needs of both visual and auditory learners.

Text
Did you know there are over two million people in the United States who are blind or who have difficulty viewing a computer monitor? This makes it even more important to deliver content using quality text that’s easy to read and accessible. Consider investing in a screen reader for your company; these applications interpret and read information on a computer screen, helping individuals with visual impairments hear content better and understand the content presented. A screen reader is an excellent long term investment for people with visual impairments who must regularly read large amounts of information from a computer screen.

Correctly labeled links are another effective component used to help the learner recognize the link as a connection between two sets of information.  When used appropriately they can be an excellent addition to any design.

Color
Color is a major differentiator between good design and bad design.  Different colors are associated with different emotions so opt for neutral colors because they don’t overpower the eye, yet are still attractive and stimulating.  Dark colored text on a light colored background can also improve accessibility for visually impaired learners because it increases the contrast between the two colors, making the text easier to view and read.

Activities
Interactive elements in a training program are a great way to maintain a learner’s interest and check for their understanding throughout the course.  For individuals who lack fine motor skills, courses designed with larger clickable icons are easier to use and navigate.  Also, you should always allow learners plenty of time to take the training course; this helps prevent learners with cognitive disabilities from feeling rushed.

Summing it up
The techniques discussed here are all good tools to create stronger ADA compliant design.  They can also be used to deliver a robust training solution and help improve the accessibility and functionality of a training course for all users, not just those with impairment.  Understanding and applying ADA compliant design characteristics will help you implement and communicate the value of accessible design throughout your organization.

Posted on August 22, 2011, in Instructional Design and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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