If you missed our webinar Make Online Learning More Accessible in 2022 on December 16, it’s not too late to benefit from it—the recording is now live.
For many organizations, accessible learning is an aspiration—a work in progress. Learners can navigate their courses from beginning to end, but the experience isn’t memorable or impactful. Depending on where they’re located, organizations may have had little impetus to make their learning accessible, especially in provinces with no accessibility legislation. The result is a country-wide patchwork of quality and impact.
But that is changing. As industry drives the evolution of new accessibility standards, this in turn drives new legislation, and this legislation will soon be enforced in more and more places.
Learning & development professionals are becoming more aware of accessibility. They want to make their learning accessible. They know it’s the right thing to do, and they’re ready to put in the effort. They just don’t know exactly how to do it.
Their first impulse is often to consult WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). But for organizations that are just starting out with accessibility, WCAG can be confusing. There are various levels such as A, AA, and AAA. And given WCAG’s focus on websites, it doesn’t necessarily provide useful guidance with learning.
That’s why Leah Chang sat down with Lindsay Clark, Director of Learning Experience at ATB Financial, and Anu Pala, Accessibility & Inclusion Consultant of A-Nu Vision Coaching, for a focused look at embracing more accessible learning in 2022.
Together, they shared these 6 tips:
Tip 1: Include people with lived experience
“Nothing about us without us.”
When starting any project and aiming for accessibility, get people with lived experience to evaluate your website and your learning to determine how accessible it is. They can give you honest feedback about how your projects work with their technology. For L&D professionals, this should make sense—we should never design without the learner audience in mind.
Tip 2: Start your design with the learner experience in mind
When it comes to accessibility, instructional designers may jump straight to WCAG and treat it as a checklist. Checklists can be useful once you’ve reached a certain comfort level with designing for accessibility, but if you’re just beginning, we urge you to reverse that approach! Start by thinking about people rather than tools. Think about who you’re building your design for. Think about how they’ll feel when they complete the experience. How do you want them to describe it to others?
Tip 3: Make ALL media accessible
Commit to alt-text for all images, and include closed captions and transcripts for all videos. This approach is helpful for everyone, including those with screen readers. It gives users a choice about how they’ll experience your learning.
Get good at using alternative text. It’s beneficial for people using screen readers, and it’s good for your SEO. Alternative text descriptions should provide just enough detail and context.
Tip 4: Lean on accessibility vendors
There are so many great companies, services and products that can help you get more accessible. Use accessibility checkers in Adobe, Microsoft Office and Google (e.g., Grackle). Reach out to vendors. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel—there’s plenty of support out there!
Tip 5: Optimize your learning tech
Most of us have a learning management system (LMS). Hold your vendor accountable. Ask about their accessibility functions. Toggle those functions on! Get a tour of their new releases. Ask for help. Ask them if they’re WCAG 2.1 compliant. Use third-party tools to test for accessibility.
Tip 6: Get involved in your accessibility community
There are some amazing supports out there.
Commit to online learning accessibility in 2022
Which of these tips will you adopt in 2022? Pledge and commit!
Don’t be afraid to get started with accessibility. Start small and learn as you go. Consider it a journey. It’s okay to stumble and make mistakes. The first step is to try.
And if you need support, check out Leah Chang Learning’s on-demand non-profit courses. We’re in the process of turning these offerings into accessible courses. We’d love your feedback.
You can also reach out to Anu Pala at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lindsay Clark at email@example.com.
If you missed our webinar Resiliency Training for Non-Profit Teams on November 16, 2021, we’ve got your back—the recording is now live.
Non-profit organizations often have limited staff and need to work lean. Faced with scrutiny over administrative costs, staff need to do more with less. Budgetary pressures can pose significant challenges for employee retention, and those staff members who do remain often experience high levels of stress. According to a recent Qualtrics study, mental health issues have doubled in the last nine months in organizations.
With high rates of burnout and attrition at organizations, staff often find it hard to dig in and discover their own resiliency. Our founder, Leah Chang CEO and Lead Instructional Designer & Learning Strategist Leah Chang sat down with Debbie Pearmain, Senior HR Consultant and Coach, to host this 49-minute webinar on skill building for resiliency.
Here are the learning objectives we covered in the session:
What is resiliency?
The modern definition for resiliency is “Advancing despite adversity.” It’s the capacity to bounce back from tough situations and to become even stronger as a result. When people are resilient, they are able to stay positive and focus on what they need to do.
The dandelion is a great example of resiliency. Sure, most of us aren’t big fans of dandelions on our lawn, but you have to admit, they sure are tough. And they keep coming back!
What are signs of resiliency?
What does resiliency look like, sound like and feel like? Many phrases nicely sum up the concept of resiliency:
Not only are resilient people persistent and gritty; they also tend to be optimistic. They tend to smile. They appreciate everything that happens, even if it’s challenging, and especially if they can learn from it. They enjoy problem solving. If they feel stuck, they find a way to climb out of their rut. They don’t let themselves be defined by setbacks. And at the end of the day, they feel gratitude.
Another key characteristic of resilient people is empathy. When you have resiliency, you have compassion for yourself and others. Resilient people recognize other people’s efforts and appreciate them.
On the flipside, people who lack resiliency may struggle at work and in their personal lives. You may have observed signs in your employees such as:
The 6 domains of resiliency
Looking at your team, which domains do you think are strongest? Which could use improvement?
Why this matters, and the role of VUCA
Our world is a VUCA world! In other words, it’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.
Change happens quickly and unpredictably. We need to be agile to stay aware of trends and issues, as well as complex cause-and-effect relationships and the confusion that results. And we have to get comfortable with ambiguity, whether it comes from misunderstandings, new information or fast-changing conditions.
Key skills for dealing with this VUCA world are:
How can non-profits support resiliency?
It starts with skill development. Organizations can invest in their employees’ resiliency by providing them support systems and giving them the tools to thrive. They can cultivate a healthy workplace culture, embrace a vision/values statement, develop policies that enhance wellbeing, and recognize employees both when they’re doing well and when they’re struggling.
For some organizations, training may be the answer. Learning consultants look at analytics and to determine how an organization can build capacity over time.
Instructional designers use a framework called Bloom’s Taxonomy to measure organizational learning. At the lowest level of the taxonomy, learning tasks are simple (e.g., remembering.) Going up the taxonomy, learning gets more complex and demanding. Learners understand, then apply what they’ve learned; from there they analyze, evaluate, and create solutions of their own.
Where does resiliency fit in the taxonomy? It’s at the highest level: extremely complex. This means it takes time to build; it’s not a one-time event. Learning professionals can support organizations with a program to build resiliency for individuals and the organization as a whole.
Keys to learning resiliency
A provincial organization rolled out resiliency training to 350 employees. It set up consistent language, job aids, operational events, and leader/team meetings. The roll-out was successful, but something was missing – coaching.
Coaching (peer-to-peer, external, between leaders) can be a key element in an organization’s journey toward resiliency.
Additional tips for building resiliency
Summary: Training for resiliency in non-profit teams
A key message for organizations is that it’s important to seek out experts who specialize in supporting non-profits. Leaders are often working flat-out, and it’s hard to do this off the side of a desk. Finding the right supports can make the difference between struggling to keep employees engaged and present – and having a resilient team.
Learn how Leah Chang Learning supported a non-profit project to deliver a comprehensive, accessible eLearning (WCAG 2.0) and full web experience in just 6 months
If you’ve been following us, you know that Leah Chang Learning recently worked with The Inclusive Workplace (TIW) to develop a new resource hub that supports aspiring inclusive employers and job seekers on the autism spectrum or with intellectual disabilities. The goal of this collaboration was to increase meaningful employment while empowering Canadian businesses and employment agencies to recover from the pandemic and beyond.
The hub has been a smashing success. So much so that on September 28 we got the team together to celebrate!
Leah Chang joined TIW team leads Rachel Mills and Radha MacCulloch, along with Courtney Weaver, an autism and disability results-oriented worker and self-advocate, to discuss the success of The Inclusive Workplace. In addition to sharing what it was like to work on this meaningful project, the team led a tour of the TIW resource hub.
Some highlights you won’t want to miss:
Watch the full webinar and subscribe to our YouTube Channel
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A full transcript of the event is available upon request.
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Leah Chang is a learning consultant with 17+ years of experience designing online and classroom learning. In her spare time she goes on self-propelled travel adventures and tries to grow vegetables.