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Workplace Learning: Rethinking Accessibility And Inclusion

Posted By: eCom Scotland

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When you hear the terms accessibility and inclusion in relation to workplace learning, it usually refers to a compliance course on discrimination in the workplace. We understand the need for these courses in the workplace, but aren’t we missing something? Shouldn’t the courses we undertake be accessible too?

At the end of 2015, a Starbucks’s employee successfully challenged the company under equality discrimination. The tribunal found that Starbucks had failed to make reasonable adjustments for the employee’s dyslexia under the 2010 Equality Act. Organisations have an obligation to make reasonable adjustments and ensure equality in the workplace, including workplace training. One issue with Starbucks was their policies were in small text, so adding to the difficulties for a dyslexic reader.

Although this is, to date, the only case reported in the UK there have been cases brought in the USA. A hearing impaired medical student sued the American Heart Association for failing to provide subtitles for video content. High profile universities Harvard and MIT are also facing similar accusations from deaf learners.

When it comes to making adjustments those with obvious disabilities tend to be catered for, but not always those with invisible ones. Around 1 in 10 of the population have some form of reading impairment like dyslexia or visual impairment. Many do not declare it for fear of discrimination, ridicule by other staff, or they have just developed coping strategies. There are many other “invisible” impairments to be considered such colour blindness, mental health, hearing impairment and various cognitive difficulties. As the Starbucks’s case shows, organisations cannot plead ignorance as a defence.

So what does this mean for workplace learning delivery and what can you do to meet the needs of all your learners?

A good online learning platform can help you achieve higher accessibility standards and offer a more inclusive learning environment.

  • Allowing the change of colour, contrast and text size to suit the learner
  • Providing materials in alternative formats audio, video, text
  • Enabling learners to work at their own pace, go back over things or access content at home so they can enlist help
  • Giving learners the option to use their own tools like magnification or a screen reader
  • Allowing eLearning content to be viewed on mobile devices and tablets to offer more choice of where and when people learn
  • Tracking and monitoring training uptake and completion to identify potential issues for learners

Designing for accessibility can be seen as ‘making the content boring’, but it doesn’t have to be. Using the guidance from W3C sensibly means you can mix good design with accessible design. This W3C checklist is a useful resource to see how your eLearning and learning management system stacks up.

At eCom Scotland we have used the latest technology to develop a series of accessible eLearning courses and a delivery platform for RNIB that is suitable for all learners. Our partnership with RNIB has enabled the innovation that ensures equity in the learning experience for the blind and visually impaired.

Our learning management system, eNetLearn, is accessible and responsive to ensure that content is delivered optimally on the learner’s device of choice.

Call eCom now on 01383 630032 or email us at to discuss how you can make your workplace learning more inclusive and accessible.

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