Evolve accessibility features on mobile devices

Build WCAG and Section 508 courses with Evolve.

This article is about how you can build WCAG and Section 508 accessible courses with Evolve Authoring.

We also discuss what WACG and Section 508 are, with links to additional resources.

If you author eLearning courses, then you’ll have heard of one or both of these. In case you don’t know though, here’s a short introduction to what WCAG standards and Section 508 compliance are. 

Section 508 is a legal requirement in the United States of America. WCAG is a set of international standards but isn’t a legal requirement. The World Wide Web Consortium maintains WCAG. We’ll deal with WCAG first.

WCAG guidelines.

The principles of accessibility as laid out in the WCAG guidelines are easy to understand. Content should be 

1. Perceivable.

2. Operable.

3. Understandable.

4. Robust. 

Translating into plain English in an eLearning context, we get: “I should be able to understand the learning, interact with it and navigate its structure. My course should work with assistive technologies by default.”

You can read the WCAG guidelines here: https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG/

Section 508

If you build Section 508 accessible courses in the United States, then this is a legal requirement. Section 508 is an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that requires,

“U.S. Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities.”

  • “Join Hands to Help State Agencies Meet Web Accessibility Standards.” MENA Report, Albawaba (London) Ltd., May 2016, p. n

You can read the Section 508 guidelines here: https://www.section508.gov/refresh-toolkit#AccessibilityRequirements

How can I build WCAG and Section 508 accessible courses with Evolve Authoring?

Building published Evolve courses to WCAG AA status, or Section 508 standards is easier than ever.

It’s always been possible to set ALT tags on images, tab around content and use screen readers with Evolve courses. Evolve 4 revisits these features, extending and enhancing them so that meeting the rigours of Section 508/WCAG is straightforward. 

Extended screenreader support

Screenreaders are an essential part of meeting WCAG AA standards. Building eLearning that is readable by screenreaders helps make that content more robust. 

By default published Evolve courses now support Chromevox, NVDA, and Voiceover. Why these three? They are all free and make up a significant share of the screenreader market. In one study NVDA now makes up 61% of screenreader usage.

As a company, we don’t think accessibility should be something you have to pay for, and that’s why we’re committed to supporting free tools.

Tabs, Aria labels and tab focus styling

We’ve extended tab support across Extensions, menus and components in Evolve. Your learners can get around their courses efficiently using tab/enter and can access supporting content, downloads and menus without needing to use a mouse.

Aria labels are everywhere in Evolve to help you mark up content for screen readers to access. For example, Swipe and Map menu indicators now have Aria labels. You can add a marker that screenreaders will use to tell your learner that they’re on the menu controls.

Published Evolve courses have always been tabbable but we’ve done better, and now you can change the styling of the tab focus outline. You know, the little blue border that appears when you tab to items? Being able to update the colour of this means you have control over its contrast against the background colour. Increasing contrast fulfils WCAG’s success criteria 2.4.7. Section 508 includes WCAG’s guidelines.

Keyboard controls

An essential aspect of accessible content is having control over the interactions using only the keyboard. In Evolve this doesn’t mean just using tab to progress through content. 

Our Drag and Drop and Sorting components now support full keyboard control, and all our interactions have enhanced keyboard control. 

Our next article will cover some practical tips on how to build WCAG and Section 508 accessible courses with Evolve Authoring.