When designing an accessible experience for STEM courses, the biggest challenge is the need for visual and interactive learning. If we consider all the videos, plots, data tables, images, and diagrams STEM instructors and students rely on to learn complex concepts, how do we ensure that students have equal opportunity to learn in Möbius?
We want Möbius to be accessible for STEM learners so when developing the platform, we've listened to users, trained our staff to understand conformance requirements, and implemented accessibility-centric testing strategies.
With Möbius 2020.2, we have adopted WCAG 2.0 AA as our baseline standard to assist students with diverse accessibility requirements and implemented improvements to our platform; major ones include:
- bypass blocks
- refined heading hierarchies
- navigation improvements
- button and icon labels
- programmatically associated descriptors for form input fields
- the ability to add alt-text to programmatically generated plots
Content authoring will require adherence to accessibility guidelines, but it will be easier to achieve accessibility for students with the tools now available.
Möbius displays content in HTML5 which allows content authors to use HTML5 to create content or embed existing content accessible for all users. HTML5 also allows for the use of the Accessible Rich Internet Applications Suite (ARIA) to add elements to ensure an accessible experience.
As we continue to improve Möbius with new features, development will no longer require adding accessibility to the finished solution because it will be considered from the beginning. During development, automated tools such as aXe by Deque, Color Contrast Analyzer, and Colorblindly, are used by our developers to evaluate accessibility. We also reach out to our user community to demonstrate the accessibility improvements we make; our users' acceptance is the gold stamp of approval we aim for.
The end result is a platform working its way towards an experience that is consistent for all users.
For more information on accessibility check out our Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT).
-Boris Pavlovic, DigitalEd