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Inclusive Design: Be taught Why It Issues

September 1, 2020
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How to design for all learners

Every learner is different. Regardless of whether they are of different age groups, races or genders and whether they have certain requirements for content accessibility, existing knowledge of your training content or no experience at all, every learner comes to your training with different backgrounds and expectations.

How do you design eLearning for all of these unknown variables?

Two words: inclusive design.

"Inclusion benefits everyone, it should be everyone's concern. In this digitally transformed reality in which we live and work - where consumption is not consumed and space knows no boundaries - there is no disadvantage to inclusion and it is possible to make room for us all to create. ”- Jutta Treviranus, Director of the Inclusive Design Research Center (IDRC)

Creating a culture of inclusivity goes far beyond offering annual diversity training and hopes it will have an impact. Inclusive design concepts must be carefully incorporated from the ground up. HR directors, training managers, and eLearning developers need to be aware of diversity and inclusion in the creation, development, and delivery of eLearning.

What is Inclusive Design?

Inclusive design is not a design practice, but a philosophy of designing for one and expanding to many. The goal of an inclusive mindset is to give as many people a seat at the table in your design as possible, regardless of experience, ability, socio-economic status, education, ethnicity, race, gender preferences, culture, age, etc. It's about creation the best possible experience that everyone can partake in.

The general idea is to eliminate as much bias (including unconscious bias) as possible. To do this, you need to involve a diverse group of people and perspectives in your design process from the start. A slogan popularized by the Disability Activism Movement in the 1990s perfectly explains this idea: "Nothing about us without us!"

If you want to reach a diverse group of learners in your training, you need to involve a diverse group in the development and beta testing.

Why design matters to everyone

Introducing an integrative design mindset is well worth the effort. Why? Bringing in most people is good for business. You get more leads, increase sales and increase awareness of your brand. Greater diversity and an internal culture of inclusivity can also improve your product development with new ideas and perspectives and lead to better offers for a wider customer base.

"More than 60% of companies believe that diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are key drivers of business results." -Brandon Hall Group

Inclusive design and accessibility

Inclusive design involves more than just following accessibility standards. However, creating accessible content is a good place to start.

Your authoring tool should include certain features to make creating accessible content easier and more intuitive. For example, Lectora® includes an option to use settings for accessibility on the Internet, which you can activate at any time during the development of your course. If you select this option, Lectora automatically activates certain functions in the application that help you comply with the standards of Section 508 and the Guidelines for the Accessibility of Web Content 2.0 Level AA.

Regardless of which authoring tool you use, make sure to include image alt tags, add subtitles, and make sure your tab order flows naturally.

Then see the reading level of your subtitles and other on-screen text.

There are services like Grammar and Readable that analyze your copy and assess the readability of your text. These tests are based on recognized readability standards such as the Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level and the Gunning Fog Index. These standards are used in many industries to ensure that business and technical writing is accessible to everyone, regardless of their educational background or reading status.

Plus-one thinking

The universal design experts Thomas Tobin and Barbi Honeycutt call another design practice that you can incorporate into your eLearning development "plus-one thinking".

For each interaction you create, give the learner a different way to get the same information. For example:

  • When presenting content as a one-click graphical process flow to display text captions, add a short video that demonstrates the process in real time.
  • If you've created an interactive eLearning course that may be consuming your learner's bandwidth, provide a downloadable text document as well.
  • When adding a video with audio commentary, add a transcript or subtitle.

If you create content that is difficult for learners to access or that they cannot understand, automatically set it up for error. By being more inclusive from the start and giving learners multiple ways to engage with the learning, you will improve learner retention and satisfaction. This pays off for your company's productivity.


Lectora is WCAG-friendly and works with any LMS. Between the responsive features, automated versioning, interactivity, branching, and endless quiz options, nothing will hold you back! Part of the eLearning Brothers Authoring Suite.

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