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How do you adapt a learning platform for people with visual impairments?

Over the past six months, we have been working hard to improve the accessibility of LearningStone for people with visual impairments. It had been on our wish list for a while to improve the accessibility. It’s not easy to make a complex platform easily accessible, but when Gea Weersma of the Foundation “Eye for everyone” signed up for a training at the Trainers Academy, we jumped at the opportunity.

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Gea Weersma - from the Foundation Eye for everyone.

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Gea Weersma is the chairwoman of the Eye for everyone Foundation. There she works hard for accessibility of sites and systems. Early this year, Gea decided to become a trainer herself and was looking for a trainer to support her. Annelies Tegel CMC and Petra Aartsen of the TrainersAcademie decided to take up the challenge. Annelies explains, "We want to be accessible and inclusive for everyone and welcomed the opportunity to help Gea. It was great that LearningStone joined forces with us on this.”

Gea - like other visually impaired people – uses a screen reader that reads pages aloud - but it’s important that a site - or in this case learning environment - be sufficiently accessible to that screen reader. Her initial assessment of LearningStone was not bad, but the accessibility could be better. That became the start of a project that addressed hundreds of details.

Gea Weersma: Fantastic that I can now follow my training despite my visual impairment!

Dorien van Drees, front-end developer at LearningStone took on the project and maintained contact with Gea Weersma. We ask her about the project.

Dorien, can you tell us about the changes?

Dorien says, "Many adjustments are under water as we say and are only noticeable if you work with a screen reader. For example, all kinds of special links, jumps and navigation methods have been added that work for the screen reader or are useful if you do everything with your keyboard. Colors have also been adjusted for more contrast and adjustments have been made to the layering of the interface. You have to imagine that if you click on a link and a dialog box appears in an unexpected place that you make it difficult for people with visual impairments.
The challenge is then to find a solution which doesn’t distrupt the use for the rest of the users."


Dorien van Drees

Dorien van Drees, developer at LearningStone

Do LearningStone users also have to do something?

"Certainly, the people that develop content can do a lot too. Content is a big part of accessibility, there is also a lot about this in the guidelines of the WCAG 2.2 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). For example, it is useful to take into account color and contrast in images, because there are many people who have a form of color blindness. Or, for example, always include subtitles in your videos. And content-wise you have to be very clear. For example, never use a link with "click here". If there is text on images, make sure there is a good alt text - it will be read by the screen reader. We have made a first checklist for users so if you want to take it into account, that's a good start."

Is LearningStone now completely finished, in terms of accessibility?

"I wouldn't say we're at 100%, but I would say we're a long way along and that since going live, Gea can go through the entire flow of a course timeline. That's already very cool! We are currently working on form accessibility improvements, so the work continues."

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More info

Trainers Academy

Eye for Everyone

Tips on accessability on LearningStone

Checklist on A11y

More info on inclusive design



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