The newest update of iSpring Suite gives eLearning authors a big advantage – now, they can create accessible content for users with visual impairments.
The option to create accessible content helps authors to comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires that electronic information be available for individuals with disabilities. Despite the fact that Section 508 applies only to federal agencies, many other businesses and organizations aim to make their content fully accessible, as they want to make the world a better place for people with impairments and also to reach a larger audience with no exclusions.
That’s why we’re excited to introduce Section 508 compliant content in our authoring toolkit. With iSpring Suite, you can create tests, surveys, and eLearning interactions that users with a visual impairment can easily take. To create accessible content, you don’t have to make different versions or master a new tool – you just build a quiz or an interaction in a respective editor as you usually do, and tick a single checkbox.
iSpring Suite publishes learning modules to a special format which allows learners to switch to accessibility mode by clicking a button. Here’s how the same survey question looks in different modes:
And these are two different modes of the Media Catalog interaction. To easily navigate between the interaction steps in accessibility mode learners can use a list of items.
How is the accessibility mode different?
Here’s what you can expect from the accessibility mode:
Perceivable texts. Clear fonts and high contrast make it easy for a person with a visual impairment to read the text on the screen.
Minimalistic layout. Quizzes and interactions include only the most necessary elements, which keeps the interface clear of distractions. Such neat and succinct slides are easy to navigate for those who use only a keyboard to work on a computer.
Screen reader-friendly content. Screen readers, as the name suggests, turn text into speech and allow users to navigate with the keyboard, e.g., jump between elements, select checkboxes, and fill in fields. This way, people with visual impairments can use computers without anyone’s assistance.
If digital content isn’t optimized for screen readers, there might be issues. For example, a screen reader might voice content in the wrong order or be unable to activate checkboxes.
Tests created with iSpring Suite are recognized by the most popular screen readers: JAWS, VoiceOver, and NVDA.
We’ve put together simple step-by-step instructions on how to publish a quiz or an interaction to the accessible format and a few helpful tips for content authors.
How to create an accessible test in iSpring Suite
1. Launch standalone iSpring QuizMaker. You can do this from the Windows Start menu.
2. In the Form View tab just add a couple of questions to be able to publish the quiz. Also, I want to share important info with you right now: please keep in mind that if you add content in Slide View, for example, pictures or shapes, they won’t appear in accessibility mode after publishing.
3. Click on the Publish button and enable Accessibility mode.
Don’t forget to specify a language: a screen reader pronounces text in the language you set, and if it doesn’t match the actual language of your quiz, the screen reader will voice it with a strange accent.
How to create an accessible interaction in iSpring Suite
1. Launch standalone interaction editor (iSpring Visuals). You can do this from the Windows Start menu.
2. From the list of interactions, select the one you’d like to create and click on Create Interaction.
3. We’ve chosen the create the Guided Image interaction, however, for all other modules, the instructions are the same. So, populate the interaction with texts and images and click Publish.
4. In the Publish window, turn on Accessibility mode.
5. Enable Screen reader mode and specify the language for your interaction. Now, you are all set to hit Publish.
Tips for creating accessible content
To make your content really inclusive, please keep a few important things in mind while preparing your quizzes and interactions:
- Rely on text rather than images to convey important info. Include meaningful data in the question wording or, at least, add alternative text (alt-text) to a picture.
- Adding alt-text to images in interactions is a little bit different: once you’ve added a picture (via Insert → Picture), the Alternate text field appears, and you can type a description there.
- The same goes for videos: don’t forget that some of your learners are only able to hear it, not see it.
- Hotspot and Drag-and-drop questions don’t work in accessibility mode. In an LMS, these questions will be reported as unanswered.
- For now, the accessibility mode is only available on desktop devices.
Right now, we’re working on adding new accessible options to iSpring Suite. Stay tuned!