The digital era has transformed the way businesses operate and employees must work. What that means is that technology skills are an essential component of every employee’s skills. As organizations strive to stay ahead of technology-driven innovations and growth, it becomes crucial that employees are equipped with the necessary technical skills, especially for jobs that aren’t technical.
There are lots of jobs that aren’t in IT yet they rely on technical skills to get the job done right. Nurses traditionally are not technical at all and neither are construction workers. Whether they like it or not there are still technical skills they need.
Employees need technical skills but amidst this pursuit of technical upskilling, we often overlook a critical aspect – accessibility.
Inclusive technology training is not just about covering a wide range of topics, it’s about ensuring that all employees, regardless of their abilities, can fully participate and benefit from the learning experience. That means not only does eLearning need to be accessible but every aspect of the job and training.
After all, accessibility is not simply a buzzword; it’s a fundamental right that should be upheld within any organization. How can companies ensure accessibility in their company IT training?
This post helps you understand not only the importance of inclusive and accessible learning design but also how it can be done. It’ll explore effective strategies and best practices to incorporate accessibility into company IT training.
From understanding the unique needs of individuals with disabilities to implementing inclusive technologies, we uncover practical tips that will empower organizations to create an environment where everyone can thrive equally.
Discover how small changes in your approach and mindset can make a world of a difference to inclusive technology training. Whether you’re an HR manager, change manager, project manager, IT professional, or someone passionate about creating an inclusive workplace, thinking with an accessibility mindset will help your work.
While it is about accessibility, more than simply those with disabilities benefit from accessible company IT training. it makes training better overall. Let’s take a look a bit more at the importance of inclusive company technology training.
The Importance of Accessible Technology Training
From communication to productivity, businesses and therefore employees rely heavily on IT systems and tools to stay competitive and do their work. As a result, companies invest significant resources in training their employees to develop the necessary skills to navigate this ever-evolving technological landscape.
However, it’s essential to recognize that not all employees have the same abilities or accessibilities. Many individuals with disabilities face unique challenges when it comes to using technology effectively. It’s equally important for everything to know company technology whether with a disability or not.
So while accessibility is essential in the technology itself, the training for it must also be accessible. Inclusive technology training goes beyond teaching technical skills; it focuses on ensuring that all employees can fully participate and benefit from the learning experience.
By making sure company IT training is accessible, you will be contributing to an environment that’s inclusive and accessible to all giving people an equal opportunity for growth and success.
It could even lead to more accessible IT products if you have a route to make those needs known. But assuming the technology itself is accessible, training should also be equally if not more accessible to benefit all employees.
Understanding the Unique Needs of Individuals
Designing inclusive technology training starts with an accessible mindset from the start. It’s about a series of habits and processes that help you look at all training you create from a lens of accessibility.
While needs analysis isn’t meant to help you understand everything about your audience, it’s safe to say there’s a large percentage of employees who will benefit from an accessible training program. It all starts with the understanding that every employee has unique needs no matter if they’re reported or not.
It’s also important to note that most disabilities aren’t visible and they all range in degree for each person. Sight isn’t just on or off, there can be varying degrees of vision. Same with dexterity; sometimes it can be difficult for someone to drag and drop with precision but dragging and dropping is easy with less required precision.
The point is, disabilities all vary which means it’s essential to consider all aspects of your audience whether they’re known to you or not, and do your best. Not everything is always going to be perfect but getting in the mindset for accessibility will help you help a lot more people.
Disabilities can range from visual impairments and hearing loss to cognitive limitations and mobility restrictions. Individuals with visual impairments may require screen readers or alternate text descriptions for images. Or they may not require a screen reader but a proper size font will help significantly.
Those with hearing loss may benefit from closed captions or transcripts for audiovisual content. Or perhaps someone just needs the closed captions to follow content that’s hard for them to understand when listening because the language spoken isn’t their first language.
Cognitive disabilities may necessitate clear instructions and simplified interfaces, while individuals with mobility restrictions might require assistive devices or alternative input methods.
There are all types of needs and within those needs, they can vary a lot. By taking the time to understand these unique needs, company IT training can be tailored accordingly. This ensures that all employees have equal access to information and opportunities for skill development.
Incorporating Accessibility into Company Technical Training
To ensure accessibility in company IT training, it helps to build an accessibility-first mindset. That means you build the habits that are then put into a process that you repeat on each process.
Just like your organization likely has a quality assurance (QA) process for training, it should also have a process for building accessible training as well as checking it at least on a basic level.
Organizations should adopt these inclusive learning design mindsets and tools at a minimum.
Create accessible learning materials
Providing training materials in multiple formats or accessible formats is helpful. That means videos include subtitles, images have alt text for PDFs and more, and courses are built from an accessibility point of view.
There are many tools built into modern tools that help you ensure materials are accessible and will be compatible with assistive technologies. Microsoft Office has a whole slew of accessibility-checking tools to verify your content.
We’ve built some tools to help you create accessible documents using Microsoft Word and we have a checklist available on our resources page as well as a microlearning course available on our digital training portfolio.
Design user-friendly interfaces
Not only should courses be built for accessibility with intuitive navigation and a user-friendly interface but they should also have user-friendly and accessible interfaces that are consistent across the board.
Consider the use of color contrast, font size options, and keyboard accessibility. Creativity is nice but not if every course’s navigation is different and a challenge to learn all over again. Creativity within a framework is a good thing and leads to more creativity within that framework.
Provide assistive technologies
This one is specific to only people with a disability who also declare their disability. Most employees don’t declare their disability, though, so keep that in mind. Accessibility should be standard in every process because you will never know most employee’s disabilities and nor should should you.
Employees with disabilities significantly underdisclose to their employers, so employers are missing out on helping employees bring their full selves to work.BCG DEI Report
But, for those who do report their disabilities, everything should be done to accommodate them. Not just because companies are legally obligated to but because it’s the basis of what a company should do.
Just like a company is expected to provide a building to work in or a computer to work on, they should also expect to provide a screen reader or any software needed to help employees perform their duties. This may include screen readers, magnification software, or alternative input devices.
By implementing these best practices, companies can ensure that company IT training is accessible to all employees, regardless of their abilities.
Ensuring Accessibility in Online Learning Platforms
What happens if you put an accessible course inside of an inaccessible learning management system (LMS)?
You may have guessed that you end up with a course that people can’t even get to if they need a certain type of accessible accommodation. It’s like putting wheelchair-accessible bathrooms at the bottom of a stairwell. That’s just stupid.
The platform where a course goes should be just as (if not more) accessible than the course itself. It’s essential to ensure that the company LMS is accessible to individuals with disabilities.
To make online learning platforms more inclusive:
- Choose an accessible platform: Select a learning management system (LMS) or learning experience platform (LXP) that complies with accessibility standards. Look for features such as keyboard navigation support and compatibility with screen readers.
- Caption multimedia content: For video hosting platforms for training content, make sure there are tools for importing subtitles and captions. If the platform has auto-generated subtitles make sure you don’t rely on those but rather manually create them or at least verify auto-generated captions. One computer mistake can make video content useless for those using subtitles. By providing captions or subtitles you will allow individuals with hearing impairments to access the content effectively.
- Create structured content: Organize course materials using headings, subheadings, and bullet points. This helps individuals using screen readers navigate through the content more efficiently and typically makes it more visible with an understandable hierarchy for others too.
- Ensure compatibility with assistive technologies: Test the online learning platform with various assistive technologies to ensure compatibility and usability. This should be part of the standard process when evaluating products or even checking on a current platform. It’s never too late to request features that are beneficial to all and should get developer priority.
By making online learning platforms accessible, companies can extend their training opportunities to all employees, regardless of their location or physical abilities. It all comes down to making accessibility a priority not just for training but for the company as a whole.
Making Accessibility a Priority in Company IT Training
To truly make accessibility a priority in company IT training programs, organizations must foster a culture of inclusivity. That means the company as a whole must value and prioritize accessibility in everything they do.
Some of the things a company can do to foster accessibility in the organization and for training involves:
- Raising awareness: Educate employees about the importance of accessibility and its impact on everyone including individuals with disabilities. Encourage empathy and understanding.
- Providing ongoing support: Offer resources and support for employees with disabilities. Part of that is making sure training is accessible whether you think 25% of your workforce has a disability or not. This may include providing assistive technologies, offering additional training sessions, assigning mentors, or simply adopting the mindset of all training being accessible.
- Evaluating and improving: Regularly assess the effectiveness of IT training programs in terms of accessibility. Gather feedback from employees with known disabilities and make necessary improvements. With feedback from internal employees and all the resources available for accessible training, there’s no excuse for making a true effort to make all learning content accessible.
By creating an inclusive environment where accessibility is standard in addition to being valued and supported, companies can empower everyone to reach their full potential. It’s all about making accessibility a priority.
If there’s time to make a course, job aid, or whatever pretty then there’s more than enough time to make it accessible.
Making company technology training accessible is not just a moral obligation; it’s also a strategic advantage for companies. By ensuring that all employees have equal access to IT training, organizations can ensure all employees have the right level of skills to succeed. It also allows employers to tap into the diverse talents and perspectives of their workforce.
We explored the importance of inclusivity in company IT training, strategies for understanding the unique needs of individuals with disabilities, incorporating accessibility into company IT training, ensuring accessibility in online learning platforms, and making accessibility a priority within organizations.
Remember, small changes in your approach and workflow can make a significant difference in creating an inclusive and accessible workplace. Prioritizing it and making the time in your process can make a huge difference. Once you get in the habit the time it takes isn’t as much as you might think.
If you’re a learning and development leader, prioritize accessibility in your company’s training including company IT training. Everyone will benefit, even those without disabilities.
To discuss your next training project or company IT training, schedule a free consultation and we’ll help make sure it’s not only effective but also accessible.