Accessible web-based content needs careful thought. Many come to the topic with preconceived notions, e.g. “it’s for a minority”, “it’s too expensive”, “it’s going to compromise my design”. However, the BBC has a mandate to deliver to everyone and is not keen to compromise creativity in the act of making its sites accessible.
The aim of this elearning module is to increase awareness of the importance of accessibility and bring people creating content within the BBC around to adopting the best practice BBC guidelines, bringing them to life in a way that makes them practical and straightforward to apply.
From the outset, the BBC and City & Guilds Kineo teams wanted the course to have a strong personality. We were fortunate to secure the talents of Mat Fraser to be the module’s presenter and interviewer, which gave the overall module a breezy, TV news magazine feel.
There were five key design approaches taken:
- Set the context and challenge assumptions
- Make it real
- Offer tips for guideline implementation
- Show how it can work with a case study
- Call for action – give help and support
Mat Fraser introduces a myth busting introduction to challenge learner assumptions, revealing (for example) that almost 12 million adults and children in the UK have a disability – a considerable proportion of the BBC’s audience.
We included real examples of learners discussing how accessibility is important for them. All designers work better if they have a clear idea of the persona of their target audience, so we created a ‘Meet the Audience’ section. This features video interviews with real website users, sometimes expressing their frustration at sites not designed for their needs. Learners can hear directly from the user in a vox pop video clip (with captions).
Our aim with this elearning is to focus on and give practical how-to steps for key changes to design that will make a big difference in terms of accessibility. This includes the top 10 steps designers can take to improve the accessibility of a website. The content conveys the essence of each point, then links to further detail so designers can take them further. Here’s an example of one of the tips: being sensible about the use of colour on the site.
There’s no denying that there’s a lot of detail to consider when setting out to create an accessible site, so providing learners with links to more help, via the BBC guidelines, is critical.
Initial feedback has been very positive about the module. We’re grateful to the BBC and Designs on Learning for the opportunity to partner on this project, which we believe gets across the value and practical points of accessible design in a friendly and engaging way.
“It’s a great course… really great to be able to see the people that these issues affect and learn about their experiences of using the web.” – Web Designer, BBC Children’s
“I’ve just done the course and found it extremely useful. Well done to all on putting it together.” – Content Producer, BBC Future Media and Technology Team