Even if your organization does not require courses to be 508 compliant, e-learning designers/developers should still take accessibility into consideration. In my current position I am not required to make my courses compliant. This does alleviate me from the arduous task of meeting strict 508 compliance guidelines. However, I find that there are many simple steps that can improve the level of accessibility, which take little effort on our part but makes a course more accessible to audience members with disabilities. It may be as simple as including alt tags so screen readers recognize graphics, keyboard alternatives for mouse clicks or providing close captioning, etc.
These are just some of the simpler examples of addressing 508 compliance concerns. To get a better understanding of 508 compliance, here a few resources.
http://www.w3.org/WAI/ (Web Accessibility Initiative)
http://www.access-board.gov/508.htm (U.S. Access Board)
http://aprompt.snow.utoronto.ca/ (web accessibility verifier)
It can be an arduous task to meet all the compliance guidelines, but if you are not required to be compliant still become familiar with the guidelines, learn how you can improve accessibility, and make the effort. It will be appreciated by those who need it.
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