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Tools, plugins and extensions that’ll drive accessibility in your L&D efforts

User experience is a term that gets used a lot in workplace learning, and rightly so! Content needs to be easily found, in formats that appeal to people, and with a look that excites them. So it’s great that L&D and people development are enthused by the idea of creating things that look and work better for learners.

The trouble is that a piece of the puzzle often gets overlooked: accessibility. Ensuring our content is just as slick and impressive for people with physical or cognitive impairments that make accessing content more challenging.

A research paper from the House of Commons Library titled Disabled People In Employment revealed that:

“8.4 million people of working age (16-64) reported that they were disabled in October-December 2020, which is 20% of the working age population. This is an increase of 327,000 from the year before. Of these, an estimated 4.4 million were in employment, an increase of 25,000 from a year previously.”

In addition, it’s worth noting that people with conditions like dyslexia and colour blindness, which impact learning, might not feel comfortable sharing that information with employers.

So, what can us learning and development professionals do to ensure that our content is more accessible? Using tools, software and plugins is a good place to start, which is why we’ve put together this list that you can share among your teams!

W3C’s checklists for creating online content

If you’ve been set in your content creating ways for a while, it might seem daunting to start factoring in accessibility. However, W3C have put together this extensive checklist for creating accessible content. From image alt text to ensuring titles are structured in the right way, this is a great place to start.

Accessibility In Learning W3C Checklist for accessibility

Read Aloud

This text to speech voice reader reads written content in one simple click and supports more than 40 languages! It’ll give you a choice of voices and read formats from PDFs to Google Docs and Kindle books to online materials. Check out Read Aloud here. 

 

OpenDyslexic 

This Chrome extension uses an open-source font to make content more readable to those with dyslexia, overriding whichever font has been used on the website you’re visiting. Here’s a snippet from their description which explains how OpenDyslexic works:

“Letters have heavy weighted bottoms to add a kind of “gravity” to each letter. You are able to quickly figure out which part of the letter is down because of this feature. It aids in recognizing the correct letter and sometimes helps to keep your brain from rotating them around.”

Accessibility In Learning OpenDyslexic helping dyslexic people engage with content

Spectrum

A handy tool that helps you test online content for different types of colour vision deficiency (CVD). The app explains that it’s particularly useful for pages containing lots of graphs and data visualisations, given that colours might not be easily distinguishable in these charts. So if you’re curating third-party content, it’s worth using Spectrum to test how it will affect people with CVD.

How Spectrum enables people with colour vision deficiency to engage with content

Read&Write for Google Chrome

This extension offers tools like text to speech, which we’ve discussed already, but really goes the extra mile! It offers “text and picture dictionaries to see the meaning of words explained”, as well as allowing you to compile highlights for later, remove ads or copy sections that distract, and much more. 

Grammarly

A lot of what we discussed so far covers consuming content but not creating it. However, Grammarly can be the best friend of people writing and building out resources. The extension will give you real-time feedback every time you write, meaning you get grammatical feedback and copy suggestions as you create.

Zoom for Google Chrome

No, not that one! This extension uses the word in the literal sense, helping people easily zoom in and out of webpages in simple clicks. One impressive feature is remembering and saving the zoom levels on pages, meaning you get the same experience when you revisit. Check out Zoom for Google Chrome here.