I recently read an article in Certification Magazine about an older woman who suffers from physical disabilities so severe that she was considered unemployable. Lois Agler made her way to a Goodwill facility in Michigan that offered free IT training. She trained using PC Pro, earned her CompTIA A+ certification and is now working as a Tier-1 helpdesk technician earning more than $19 an hour.
The article reminded me of a conversation with one of my Office Pro customers who suffers from dyslexia, a developmental reading disorder in which the brain has trouble recognizing and processing certain letters. She told how reading and learning new concepts was very difficult and took her a long time.
Before these two events, I’d never given much thought to how difficult it might be for individuals with disabilities to use online courseware. I did some reading on dyslexia and was surprised to learn that it is quite common — affecting roughly 10 percent of the world’s population.
I also came across an international standards body, the Worldwide Web Consortium (WWW) that issues guidelines to make web-based content accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. WWW’s current set of guidelines, WCAG 2.0, were adopted as an ISO standard in 2012, and many nations, including the United States, follow these guidelines.
TestOut Corporation is strongly committed to assisting our users with disabilities via our LabSim-based courseware. Some of the features in LabSim’s online learning platform that address accessibility include:
- Extended time setting for exam duration, including a default setting that, when enabled, doubles the allotted time to take an exam
- Limited support for screen readers
- Closed captioning support for videos
- Display of interactive text scripts during video presentation
- Text lessons
- Text for lab simulation solution steps
- Text-based glossary of terms
- Print option for custom exams
- Print options for all text-based course materials
TestOut is actively planning and developing even more accessibility features like variable exam duration, closed captioning size adjustment, and even a dyslexic font. To view a more complete chart on TestOut’s compliance with WCAG 2.0 guidelines click here.
The need for ease of access to web-based content for individuals with disabilities is important for a number of reasons:
- Almost 18 percent of the US population has at least one disabling condition.
- Employment rates for people with disabilities is less than half that of those without disabilities.
- The median earnings for people with disabilities is two-thirds of that for people without disabilities.
TestOut training makes a difference in the lives of our customers, and I’m proud to be part of an organization committed to offering the best IT-training courseware for all students. (I'm also proud to be a Golden State Warriors fan, because the Dubs are awesome. But that's a topic for another blog post.)
About the Author — Kyle Orton is a sales manager for TestOut Corporation. He has a business management degree with an emphasis in marketing from Brigham Young University. He is married to Jill Orton, the love of his life, and they have five children. Kyle is a die-hard Golden State Warriors fan — he recently mortgaged his home to bet on them winning consecutive championships. (No, really. Please don't tell Jill.)
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- Tags: certification, Certification Magazine, CompTIA A+, Dub Nation, Office Pro, PC Pro, TestOut, TestOut Continuing Education