Informal Learning About Accessibility

Two weeks ago, I posted a poll that asked How Do You Learn About Accessibility? The poll is still open, so you can still vote, but I wanted to share the results so far.

This is an extremely small sample size, so please don’t consider this scientific research. I had 76 votes total but that counts the number of votes, not people. If you checked three choices, that’s three votes.

It does seem like there isn’t much formal learning about accessibility happening though; most of the responses were for various kinds of informal learning. No one responded through the poll that they learned about accessibility from a course, such as part of a masters program (although one person did mention academic course work in the comments).

  1. Web sites: 20% (15 votes)
  2. Blogs: 14%
    On-the-job training: 14%
  3. Books: 12%
  4. Reading the guidelines/law (e.g., WCAG, 508): 11%
    Informally from coworkers: 11%
  5. Conference presentations/webinars: 7%
  6. Professional publications: 7%
  7. Forums: 4%
  8. Other: 1% (1 vote)
  9. Formal course (e.g., part of a masters program): 0% (no votes)

Looking at the results now, I see some places where I should have clarified the choices better. I intended “on-the-job training” to mean formal training, separate from “informally from coworkers.” I have no way of knowing whether people thought that when they answered the question though; I should have specified. Still, it’s interesting to see how much it seems we’re all piecing together what we know from various sources. That is how I learned about accessibility, but that’s how I’ve learned everything about instructional design. Nice to know that most everyone else is in the same situation as me.

By the way, if you’re looking for web sites on accessibility, I have quite a few accessibility bookmarks. WebAIM is my favorite accessibility site (as you’ll probably notice looking through my bookmarks); I learn so much from their resources. If you have another favorite, leave me a comment and let me know.

I wonder how many people who responded don’t have masters degrees. Again, that’s something I should have asked; it would be interesting to compare those with and without degrees. For people who do have a degree in instructional design, was accessibility addressed in your coursework? Did you spend any time working on making content accessible, or was it more something mentioned in passing?

Thanks to everyone who participated. If you haven’t responded yet but want to now, please feel free!

2 thoughts on “Informal Learning About Accessibility

  1. Jeff, that makes a lot of sense. Government work seems to be the only place where accessibility is a standard expectation; in the academic and corporate worlds accessibility is pretty hit or miss. I bet you had more classmates who had direct experiences of dealing with accessibility issues than someone might find at, say San Diego State. (Nothing against that program, just fewer government employees.)

    I wonder if there are other industries where accessibility is viewed as more of a priority.

  2. Great poll. I just voted. I learned about 508 compliance in my ISD graduate program. It was incorporated into several courses and was enough to get us started, but I had to use websites and read guidelines to really grasp all the details and to find methods to stay within compliance.

    I should note that I received my Masters degree in Maryland (UMBC) where we have a lot of government employees. Accessibility was a common subject discussed by students, and at times a frustration. So, programs in the MD/VA/DC area probably focus more on accessibility than others…I assume.

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