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Learnosity's Approach to Accessibility

This article provides an overview of the Learnosity approach to accessible learning. Here, you'll learn about the accessibility features of our products and our considerations in designing accessible products. It should not be used as a definitive list of accessibility requirements, standards or guidelines for product development. We recommend you consult the relevant regulations and guidelines for your local jurisdiction to understand the accessibility needs for specific projects.

Learnosity aims to meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.0, level AA. This means that our product should be usable by people with a variety of impairments, such as vision impairment, hearing impairments and motor impairment.

We also work to meet Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the United States federal law covering web accessibility. This is closely aligned with the WCAG guidelines, with very similar requirements.

We passionately believe that all students have the right to a great educational experience and are committed to removing any barriers to learning.

We're committed to meeting relevant web standards, and where necessary, going further to ensure that Learnosity's products are not only "theoretically" usable; they need to be practical for day-to-day usage for all of our users, including those with disabilities.

Accessibility guidelines, technology and our products are constantly evolving. So too must our accessibility practices. We're continuously improving our user experience for users with disabilities.

Our current accessibility efforts are focused on assessments -- to enable students and proctors with disabilities to complete and submit assessments.

Our intent is that students should be assessed based on their abilities -- not on their disabilities.

At Learnosity, we focus on these areas of accessibility:

The sections below outline official standards and guidelines relevant to each area and the practical measures we take to meet each need.

Standards and guidelines

  • 1.4.1 - Use of Color: Color should not be used as the only visual means of conveying information.
  • 1.4.3 - Contrast: Text should have a 4.5:1 contrast ratio with its background. Large text should have a 3:1 contrast ratio.

Learnosity's approach

We comply with WCAG's AA standard contrast ratios and test to make sure our products are usable in grayscale. Where we use many varied colors for a particular purpose, such as the histogram setting in chart questions, we test for specific color blindness variants too.

We ensure any use of color to convey information is accompanied with iconography, text, style enhancements or other accessible alternatives.

Although the WCAG contrast ratio guideline is specifically for text, we also aim for 3:1 contrast ratios in everything else, too.

Our assessment tools provide alternate color palettes for users to select from. This can be useful for students who prefer higher or lower contrast.

Remember that contrast, color and legibility improve everyday usage for sighted users too, including:

  • People in dim or very bright environments.
  • People using dim or low-contrast displays and projectors.
  • People reviewing printed materials in hard copy.

Tips for content authors

Content authors should consider contrast and color when authoring the following kinds of content:

  • Images in question stimulus.
  • Image-based question types including hotspot, image highlight, image upload, and image cloze questions.
  • In image highlight questions, is the highlight color distinguishable from the image?
  • Video content.
  • Questions that allow the author to choose colors in the UI, such as hotspot.

W3 collates a list of tools for testing and improving color accessibility (we like the NoCoffee and Color Contrast Analyzer extensions for Chrome).

Standards and guidelines

Learnosity's approach

Our approach to accessibility includes the following:

  • Aiming to have all features usable with a combination of Tab, Space, Escape, and Enter. In addition, we also add the ability to use arrow keys in places where it makes sense. This supports users with motor impairments and injuries and any user desiring efficient keyboard navigation.
  • Providing important information in hover states and tooltips so that it is available via keyboard, touch and screen reader-friendly elements too, for users without a mouse pointer.
  • Making sure that keyboard navigation and focus makes intuitive sense. This includes how modal and modeless dialog windows open, close and can be navigated via keyboard input.
  • Learnosity endeavors to incorporate keyboard usability early in development, because it affects the design and implementation of our user interface.

Tips for content authors

  • Consider the different kinds of input devices your users might have. Check whether your questions and assessment content includes references "clicking", or "Use your mouse to…", and consider rephrasing them to address touch and keyboard users too.
  • Test content using your keyboard's tab, space, enter and arrow keys to understand how keyboard users experience your questions.
  • Test content using a variety of touch devices to understand how touchscreen users experience your questions.

Standards and guidelines

Many WCAG guidelines improve screen reader support, including all of the keyboard-related guidelines. Additional guidance includes:

 

Learnosity's approach

  • Learnosity supports the leading screen readers on each major platform. Different screen readers are optimized for specific browsers, so we focus our support according to the following list. Try the linked tutorials to learn about each tool:
  • We use semantic, hierarchical HTML. This makes our tools more accessible for users with assistive technologies including screen readers.
  • ARIA attributes improve support for assistive technologies including screen readers and navigation tools.
  • Our authoring tools include ways to provide textual descriptions of visual content:
    • Videos can be given a transcript,
    • All images can be given ALT text, and
    • Math and chemistry formulas can be given ARIA labels.
  • Our SpokenMath feature automatically generates descriptions of mathematical formulas and adds them as textual descriptions for screen readers. The generated text can also be manually edited and overridden.
  • We include specific UI enhancements for screen reader users. For example, the sighted user might see a "Next Month" button and understand it within the context of the page, while a screen reader might read "Go to August" to convey that button's function independent of the surrounding labels and context.

Tips for content authors:

  • Look for features in Learnosity question types that allow the author to improve the accessibility of content. For example, make use of the screen reader labels for image question types and math content.
  • Images that are part of an assessment should have ALT text that gives the screen reader user similar information to what they would see in the image. WebAIM provides a useful guide to ALT text.
  • Videos should have transcripts describing the relevant information the user would see.
  • Some questions can't have meaningful ALT text or transcripts without giving away the answer to the question. Consider revising these questions to provide a similar challenge level to both blind and sighted students, while meeting the intended learning goals.
  • Be aware of the difference in information between the ALT text and the image. Which gives the student an advantage?
  • Some question types cannot be completed by students with particular disabilities; for example, image highlight questions must be skipped over by blind students. Consider other question types that meet the intended learning goals.

Standards and guidelines

Learnosity's approach

  • All Learnosity audio features allow the author to provide a transcript.
  • We use third-party services such as Youtube, Brightcove and Vimeo to host video, so authors can use the closed caption features of those services.
  • Authors can choose to add sign language videos in the stimulus of any question.
  • Remember that transcripts and captions benefit users with a broad range of accessibility needs beyond impairments to vision and hearing, including:
    • Difficulties with language, reading or cognition,
    • People in noisy environments, quiet zones, communal areas and those without audio hardware, or
    • Users with a poor or intermittent Internet connection or limited bandwidth.

Tips for content authors

  • Any video with important information should come with a transcript that covers both the visual and audio information, to assist users with hearing, vision and/or cognitive impairments.
  • Video content may be improved with closed captions.
  • Consider adding a video with sign language, or embedding sign language into the original video. Some deaf users prefer this to plain text.

Standards and guidelines

Learnosity's approach

  • Our responsive layouts support changing fonts and font size. Our assessment tools also include options for the student to change the font size, which may give the user a better page layout than their browser's zoom feature.
  • Authors can specify font size within specific questions and sections of content.
  • Icons implemented with fonts are retained when switching the content font.

Tips for content authors

  • Be aware that your fonts may be changed by the user. Test with various configurations. Use your browser and system settings for changing font size, and try the OpenDyslexic extension for Chrome for overriding fonts.
  • Avoid embedding text into images and video, because these can't be adjusted by the viewer of your content. If you use text in images, provide the text in another format too, such as captions or ALT text.
  • We avoid flickering or flashing in our animations, as recommended in WCAG 2.3.1 and WCAG 2.3.2.
  • We avoid justify-aligned text, as this can cause difficulties for dyslexic readers.
  • Our assessment tools include auto-save and timeout features if the student isn't responsive. This can help in cases of poor connectivity or an interrupted assessment.
  • Proctor users have the power to extend the time limit for individual students. This can be done either with access to the student's computer (using a password) or remotely (using our Events API). This allows the proctor to tailor the time limit to match each student's abilities and challenges.
  • Each minute during a timed assessment, the current and maximum time are announced by the screen reader. This follows a recommendation of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, 1194.22 (p)
  • Our authoring and assessment tools support undo/redo functionality to help users recover from mistakes.
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