accessibility matters: What We Learned Designing Online Knowledge Hub TheInclusiveWorkplace.ca
What we learned from designing theinclusiveworkplace.ca
In recent years, it’s come to the forefront in instructional design requirements, and it’s not just a trend. Web accessibility and online learning are legislated—and we take this work very seriously.
From November 2020 to May 2021, Leah Chang Learning was hired by Inclusion Canada and the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Association (CASDA). We were tasked to produce a website and design learning materials for a new resource hub. The hub would support employees and businesses impacted by COVID-19. Five months later, the Inclusive Workplace went live!
TheInclusiveWorkplace.ca | lemilieudetravailinclusif.ca was made possible by a federal grant and the collaboration of Inclusion Canada and CASDA. The Leah Chang Learning team designed the materials for the knowledge hub: a suite of learning materials aimed at three audiences:
Our contributions to the project:
One key element of our project strengthened the design process and made the resources more effective for users overall. This was the ongoing involvement of self-advocates on the autism spectrum or with an intellectual disability. Not only did self-advocates participate in user experience interviews and provide feedback on the website build —they also provided real stories, participated in mock job interviews, and reviewed the learning content, interactivity and functionality, along with the look and feel of all our deliverables. Their feedback was indispensable! Thanks to their input, we were able to maximize accessibility and relevance. We were grateful for and humbled by their contributions.
Our biggest takeaways:
1. “Nothing about us without us.”
We didn’t do this project for people with disabilities; we did it with them, and it couldn’t have been otherwise.
2. Universal design helps everyone.
Every project should be viewed through a universal design lens. By designing barrier-free resources and materials, we ensure that the greatest possible number of people can understand, access and benefit from them, regardless of age or ability.
3. Plain language is best.
You can convey complex information and ideas without using complex phrases and jargon. Materials that are easy to read, understand and use are beneficial for everyone, regardless of their reading level. And most importantly, they’re inclusive.
If you haven’t checked out The Inclusive Workplace, be sure to visit and share the link! Pour nos ami(e)s francophones et francophiles : le site ainsi que les ressources éducatives sont entièrement disponibles en Français.
We’re proud of our team for rising to the challenge of this project, which was accomplished in a short time frame (5 months). We worked with multiple contributors in both French and English, across Canada. This project had a profound impact on how the Leah Chang Learning team works, and it raised the stakes for our approach to accessible learning design.
Our team continues to learn about designing accessible online learning. We’re currently drafting an accessibility strategy for our instructional design approach. This includes publishing an accessibility statement and asking our network to hold us accountable to our three year accessibility plan.
Instructional designers, learning leaders, and learning technologists: Stay tuned for exciting professional development opportunities to learn more about accessible learning design! We’ll be sharing our learnings with our peers and instructional design teams across North America soon.
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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.