Speexx Exchange Podcast – Episode 24:
Why Accessibility Is More Than an Add on to Your Content with Michael Osborne

Designing the Learning Experience

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Episode 24

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How important is accessibility to you and your company? Probably not too much. But that is about to change. Michael Osborne, a user-experience-driven developer focusing on accessibility who recently took on his new role at Upskill Digital as a Learning Experience Designer, sits down with Donald Taylor, the host of the Speexx Exchange Podcast to discuss the importance of accessibility in L&D. Statistics say that approximately 1 billion people have some disability, which means one in seven people is somehow affected. Thus, it is most probable that there are far more people with a disability among your customers or students than you might think. But that is just one reason why you should put more thought into the topic of accessibility. Find out why it is vital to make accessibility a priority instead of an add-on and why it benefits everyone. Listen in and learn from the expert!

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Intro 0:01    

Welcome to the Speexx Exchange podcast with your host Donald Taylor. As a renowned learning and development industry expert and chairman of the Learning and Performance Institute, Donald sits down with experts from around the globe to talk business communication, learning technology, language, digital transformation, and engaging, upskilling, and reskilling your organization. This podcast is to you by Speexx, the first intelligent language learning platform for the digital workplace. Listen in, and you might learn a thing or two.  

Donald Taylor 0:35    

Welcome to this episode of the Speexx Exchange podcast with me, your host, Donald Taylor, and today’s guest, Michael Osborne, who describes himself as a user experience-driven developer focusing on accessibility. Michael, it’s accessibility that we’re here to talk about today. Could you introduce yourself, please?  

Michael Osborne 0:54    

Sure, I’m Mike Osborne. This summer, I have been in the industry for about eight and a half years. I come from a video games background, and I spent the last eight and a half years designing simulations for some of the world’s largest companies. In the next few weeks, I’m starting a new role at a company called UpSkill Digital, where I’ll be a Learning Experience Designer. Their mission is to use digital to further people’s business and careers. So, it’s a role I’ll fit in very nicely, and I’m excited to be joining.   

Donald Taylor 1:29    

Fantastic. Michael, we’re talking today about accessibility, which, unfortunately, has too often seemed like an add-on, something you have to sort of stick on to a project or a bit of content at the end to tick a couple of boxes. Your experience in this field, your knowledge of it shows that isn’t the case. Why is accessibility so important?  

Michael Osborne 1:50    

I think you’ve only got to look at the numbers to realize soon why accessibility is essential. So, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in the region of 15 to 25% of the world’s population, about 1 billion people have a disability. If we take some UK statistics, 14.1 million people or one in five people have a disability. There are 4.2 million people, so about 12.8 of the working population of 32.6 million are working with a disability. With up to 80% of disabilities hidden, it’s likely that those figures are significantly underreported, both through fear of discrimination and not getting the job and other reasons such as disabilities going undiagnosed. They might include dyslexia and ADHD, as an example.  

Donald Taylor 2:39    

Dyslexia, ADHD, you can’t see it, but it’s there; it affects how people interact. A lot of big numbers there. We’re talking millions of people. But of course, when you say 20%, that’s one in five. So, if you are talking to 20 people, that’s four people. If you share some eLearning content with an audience of 1000 people, that is, well, 200 people, it’s a lot. So, we have to take it seriously, as you say. Does that necessarily mean that if we have to make things accessible, it necessarily means that it’s a lesser experience for people who aren’t disabled?  

Michael Osborne 3:17    

Absolutely not. Even if we have that perception, we can do much better than providing a word or a PDF alternative as the assessable alternative. The Web Accessibility Guidelines don’t permit people to use Java scripts and other interactive elements on their websites. All they do require is that there is an accessible alternative should you need to use it.  

Donald Taylor 3:37    

We’ve established, it’s a problem. Hopefully, you can tell us all the brilliant ways to tackle this in the rest of the podcast. What are the quick, easy wins? What are