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Reaching As Many Learners As Possible
The core mission of Xen.Ed is to expand access to learning & training activities for everyone. 

Keep in mind that the courses and course content that you create should be accessible to everyone, regardless of any physical limitation that they might have, and regardless whether they are accessing your course using a Web browser or using mobile apps.

In furtherance of our mission, Xen.Ed is committed to incorporating accessibility into our platform to meet a wide variety of requirements of learners with disabilities and to enable content providers to develop accessible course content.

Accessibility Best Practices for Developing Course Content


  1. Make Sure Your Course Content is Perceivable.
    Web content must be perceivable. That is, information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive; it cannot be invisible to all of their senses. In almost all cases, this means that the information should be available as text, which can be rendered or transformed into a format that can be perceived.
    For any non-text content, provide text alternatives so that the content can be changed into other forms that people need, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols, or simpler language.
    For non-text tests or exercises that would be invalid if presented in text, provide text alternatives that at least provide descriptions of the non-text content. Make sure that all images have useful alternative text that screen readers and other assistive technologies can read

  2. Make Sure Your Course Content is Understandable.
    Make sure your course content is readable and understandable. Courses may have a global and diverse audience, including learners whose native language is not the language in which you created your course, as well as learners who have a disability that affects reading, such as dyslexia or a visual impairment.
    Learners will be better positioned to access concepts in your content if you write in clear, straightforward language and the content is well structured.
    One aspect of making your course understandable is making sure that learners can easily grasp its structure, find content, and determine where they are within the course.
    Name your course sections, subsections, units, components, and discussion topics in a consistent way, and make sure the names are useful and easy to skim. Make an element’s name descriptive of its content, and put important keyword information first in the name. These names are used in navigation menus, page headings, and section headings; they are signposts that help learners to navigate your course and read course content.

  3. Use Best Practices for Describing Images.
    When you use images (including diagrams, maps, charts, or icons) in your course content, you must provide text alternatives that provide information equivalent to the visual content, or that identify the purpose of such non-text content.
    The text alternative for an image depends on the image’s context and purpose, and might not be a simple description of the image’s visual characteristics. In general, for every image, Xen.Ed recommends that you provide a text alternative that provides the equivalent information that a sighted learner would obtain from viewing the image. If the image contains words that are important for understanding the content, include the words in the text alternative. If the image itself is being used as a link, the text alternative should describe the destination or action that will be performed when the link is activated.
    The primary mechanism for providing a text alternative for an image in HTML is the alt attribute. The text value of this attribute is what screen reader users hear when they encounter the image in your content.

  4. Create Accessible Course Materials.
    The source teaching materials for your course might exist in a variety of formats. For example, your syllabus might be in MS Word, your presentation slides in MS PowerPoint, and your textbooks in publisher-supplied PDF. It is important to consider how accessible these supplemental materials are before making them available through your course.

  5. Use Best Practices for Mathematical Content.
    Math in online courses can be challenging to deliver in a way that is accessible to people with vision impairments. Non-scalable images of mathematical content cannot be sufficiently enlarged or navigated by low-vision users and are not accessible to blind users at all.

  6. Create Accessible Media.
    Media-based course materials help to convey concepts and can bring course information to life. We recommend all videos in Xen.Ed courses to include timed text captions in SubRip (SRT) format. The different media players available on our platform display caption files in an interactive sidebar that benefits a variety of learners, including learners who are hard of hearing or whose native language differs from the primary language of the media. This built-in universal design mechanism enhances your course’s accessibility. When you create your course, you need to factor in time and resources for creating timed text captions.

  7. Use Best Practices for HTML Markup.
    HTML is the best format for creating accessible content. It is well supported and adaptable across browsers and devices. Also, the information in HTML markup helps assistive technologies, such as screen reader software, to provide information and functionality to people with vision impairments.
    Most of the problem type templates in Xen.Ed Studio conform to our recommended best practices in terms of good HTML markup. You can manually add appropriate HTML tagging even if it does not exist in the component template. Depending on the type of component you are adding to your course in Xen.Ed Studio, the raw HTML data is available either automatically or by selecting the “Advanced Editor” or “HTML” views.

  8. Apply Universal Design for Learning.
    Universal Design for Learning focuses on delivering courses in a format so that as many of your learners as possible can successfully interact with the learning resources and activities you provide them, without compromising on pedagogic rigour and quality.
    Design resources and activities that can be accessed by learners in a variety of ways. For example, if there is a text component, provide the ability to enlarge the font size or change the text colour. For images and diagrams, always provide an equivalent text description. For video, include text captions.
    Provide multiple ways for learners to engage with information and demonstrate their knowledge. This is particularly important to keep in mind as you design activities and assessments.
    Identify activities that require specific sensory or physical capability and for which it might be difficult or impossible to accommodate the accessibility needs of learners. For example, an activity that requires learners to identify objects by colour might cause difficulties for learners with visual impairments. In these cases, consider whether there is a pedagogical justification for the activity being designed in that way. If there is a justification, communicate these requirements to prospective learners in the course description and establish a plan for responding to learners who encounter barriers. If there is no justification for the requirements, Xen.Ed recommends that you redesign the learning activities to be more flexible and broadly accessible.

What Is Xen.Ed Accessibility Best Practices Guidance Based On?

Xen.Ed measures and evaluates accessibility primarily using the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 (05 June 2018). All features are expected to conform to Level AA of this specification and satisfy the requirements outlined in your own Website Accessibility Policy.

As the Xen.Ed platform is strongly based on well-accepted HTML5 markup standards and WAI-ARIA, we expect that learners who require additional accessibility tools such as screen readers and screen magnifiers will enjoy strong compatibility. We test regularly with the most popular accessibility tools.

In addition, our guidance is based on principles of universal design (usable by all, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialised design) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Course teams who build courses based on these principles create an inclusive experience that considers the diverse set of learning styles and needs of all learners, including learners with disabilities, learners whose native language is not English, and learners with technical issues such as low bandwidth internet or no access to audio.

To supplement the accessibility of the materials you can create within our platform, we recommend that you engage the resources available at your institution to support learners with disabilities. Most institutions offer disability support services and information technology resources that provide accessibility advice and support. These trained professionals typically provide the following services, which may be equally applicable to courses that are taught online:
  • Help with making disability accommodation decisions and advise you on what accommodations may be appropriate in light of the goals of the course and the instructional methodologies employed.

  • Help with document accessibility remediation

  • For live events, they can help with sourcing providers for learners’ real-time captioning, signed-language interpretation, or cued speech transliteration needs.

Supporting Learners with Diverse Needs

Almost one fifth of the world’s population has some kind of disability. Online courses can reduce many barriers to education for these learners by providing access to courses from any location, at any time, and through the use of assistive technologies.

Xen.Ed is dedicated to creating a platform that is not only itself accessible, but also enables course content creators to create accessible content. If you encounter platform issues that you believe might affect your ability to provide accessible course content, please contact us. We welcome any comments and questions.
Use of authoring tools other than those provided by Xen.Ed might result in inaccessible course content. However, for clarity, use of Xen.Ed authoring tools does not ensure that your course content will be accessible.

Who Are Your Learners?

In the following sections, we provide guidance on creating and delivering course content that allows students to use built-in accessibility functionality (such as text-to-speech and magnification features), assistive technologies, and alternative formats. These practices consider learners with diverse needs, such as those in the following list.
  • Blind learners who use a screen reader, which reads page text aloud, or a Braille display device, which renders page text in refreshable Braille.

  • Low-vision learners who use screen magnification software to enlarge or modify the contrast of text and other onscreen content.

  • Learners with vision impairments, such as difficulty seeing in low-light conditions, who modify their browser or operating system to change background colours and text settings to make text easier to read.

  • Learners with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, who use text-to- speech technology that reads page content aloud.

  • Physically disabled learners who control their computers using switching devices, voice recognition software, or eye gaze-activated technology instead of mouse devices or keyboards.

  • Learners who modify their operating system settings to make the mouse or keyboard easier to use.

  • Learners with hearing impairments who cannot access audio content and need the equivalent information in an alternative format, such as captions.

Removing Barriers to Learning

Xen.Ed highly recommends that you implement the best practices in this document and in other resources. If you cannot easily address any of these barriers to providing accessible course content, we recommend that you consult with resources at your organisation such as Disability Services, or assistive technology and accessibility specialists.

The following resources might also assist you in producing accessible course content.
  • User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG) may be useful if you’re intending to implement a browser or browser extension that will be compatible with the Xen.Ed platform.

  • Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) guides our efforts to make Xen.Ed Studio more accessible.

  • HTML5 and WAI-ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) are the standards we follow to ensure that the Xen.Ed platform is accessible. You should follow the same standards to ensure that learner content inside each page (unit) is accessible.

  • EPUB 3.0 is Xen.Ed's preferred document format for ensuring that redistributable learning materials are accessible, though Adobe PDF, Microsoft Office, and Google Docs may also be made accessible.

  • The DAISY Consortium contributes to EPUB accessibility standards and has a tool for che checking EPUB document accessibility.

  • MathML is Xen.Ed's preferred markup format for all math content.

  • MathJax is the system we use for rendering MathML content.

  • WCAG2ICT covers non-web Information and Communications Technologies.

While your ability to support learners in the eLearning context might be different from face-to-face, we encourage you to develop a plan to respond to learners who inform you of accessibility barriers to learning. 

However, given the large numbers of learners enrolling in many of the courses, you will quickly see how important it is to address accessibility concerns when creating a course.
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