Learn the new web accessibility guidelines in a free online course

If accessibility in technology moves society one step closer toward inclusivity, then this course represents a giant leap toward equal access. It’s available to anyone, anywhere in the world, who develops content for the web – for free.

Accessibility guideline symbols, person in wheelchair, brain in a head profile, hands signing and a person walking with a outstretched cane
Accessibility guidelines symbols, photo: Jerzy Grynczewski [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], cropped

Introduction to Web Accessibility promises to help learners gain a practical understanding of the new web accessibility guidelines for digital content. Learners will experience what it’s like to face barriers that are commonly encountered by users in the digital world, then the barriers will be removed, to demonstrate what a barrier-free environment should be like. 

Through their partnership with The Canvas Network, an open online learning platform, and with support from the Government of Ontario, Ryerson University’s Chang School of Continuing Education gives participants the opportunity to learn how to do accessibility testing, learn more about assistive devices, and earn the chance to get a digital badge if they choose to at the end of the course, which they can share on social media.

Anyone who creates or works in a digital environment would benefit from this course. So far, over 800 people have signed up to learn more about web accessibility. The course is based on the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) and would be useful for planners, web developers, technical project managers, user experience/user interface or UX/UI designers, coders, digital compliance professionals, communications and public relations specialists or bloggers.

WCAG is the industry standard for web accessibility that many laws and regulations around the world are based on. For example, in Ontario, Canada, the Information and Communications standards in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), is based on WCAG almost line for line. 

It’s also become standard for employers to include questions about diversity and inclusion in job interviews and specifically about the WCAG guidelines for jobs that require digital technology expertise.

Introduction to Web Accessibility breaks down the information in WCAG and makes it easier to understand for the average person. It promises participants first-hand, practical experience. Learners will be able to pinpoint barriers on the web and potentially, be able to solve them with ease. 

The course offers the experience of overcoming real-world barriers from the perspective of a person with a disability by using tools such as a screen reader to navigate the web. On the developer side, you will learn how to employ web-based, automated accessibility checkers and implement accessibility review strategies.

Introduction to Web Accessibility is a self-paced course, which runs from April 8 to May 7, 2019 and will require about 3-5 hours of review each week. You need to be familiar with the web and have a basic awareness of the technologies associated with it (e.g., HTML, JavaScript, and CSS), though not necessarily how to use these skills. There are toolkits and forums to help you along your learning journey toward making the world a more inclusive place.

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