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Ableist thinking, Diversity & Accessible eLearning

My previous blog discussed diversity in the workplace. One way for your workplace to improve diversity is to be inclusive of people who are differently abled. However, being inclusive requires more than hiring people with disabilities.

I read a tumblr post recently that pointed out how many infomercial products are actually designed and produced for disabled people, but need to be marketed to an abled audience to be able to turn enough profit to continue to be produced. To do this, they cast hilariously inept abled people to use the products in their ads.

Notice that disabled people are removed from the narrative of using the products, despite the fact that these products are essential to their independence and wellbeing. The implication of this narrative is that these products must be for incredibly lazy and idiotic people, the assumption being that people are able-bodied. The cultural impact of this is that disability is equated with laziness or stupidity. This is a form of ableism, or discrimination against disabled people. This does not even address the ableism against people with less physically obvious disabilities.

This is all to say that unless you think about the lived experiences of other people, it is very difficult to see your own assumptions about other people’s lives. When their lives differ from yours, things you may take for granted as truth are definitively untrue for other people. Here are 6 other ableist things that continue to make lives harder (intentionally or not,) for people with disability.

The first item on that list is to provide accommodations that for disabilities other than just the physical ones that restrict a person to a wheelchair. This includes things such as ergonomic workspaces, closed captions and transcripts for your training and elearning. Think of AODA compliance in your elearning modules not as a government mandated act, but as a means to make your elearning content more accessible, and your work environment and work culture a better place for all your coworkers and employees.

Here are some tips to help make your elearning better for everyone to use, when building your accessible eLearning module in Articulate Storyline.

  1. Minimize the number of tab-interactable objects on screen. Turn off the tab interactivity of unnecessary objects.

  2. Where possible, keep colour contrasts in mind with regard to the different types of colour blindness that some of your learners might have.

  3. Make alt text to describe images and instructions for selectable objects.

  4. Have closed captions for all audio.

  5. Avoid interactions that require use of the mouse (e.g.: drag and drop activities)

  6. Make sure that navigation is clear. Use ‘select’ instead of ‘click’ for objects to be clicked on. Be descriptive and provide as much detail as possible.

  7. Choose large, easy to read fonts. Sans serif fonts are friendlier for learners with dyslexia.

These are things to keep in mind when creating diversity training and elearning in general for your company.

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