Using a 508 compliance Checklist for video learning

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Accessibility is an integral part of making the learning process manageable, especially for distance learning. Creating a 508 Compliance Checklist when creating eLearning content is no longer a need more than a requirement.

The visual content must be digestible for learners with varying educational needs, including those with cognitive or physical disabilities. As a general rule, all learners should be able to watch your eLearning content and engage with it. Most important, when content is accessible, learners can more easily grasp important concepts.

As distance learning becomes more and more common both in corporate and academic settings, it only makes sense for companies and educational institutions to adapt. With that in mind, here is a 508 compliance checklist of items to consider when creating a video for learning purposes.


When it comes to audio in videos, creators and editors must make sure hearing-impaired learners can understand the lesson or exercise. Here are some 508 points to keep in mind:

Do all audio-only files contain accurate transcripts?

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For the hearing-impaired, time-based media that utilizes text makes information more accessible. In most cases, the text must be rendered through any sensory modality (i.e. visual or tactile) to match their needs. If you are trying to teach a lesson with very specific steps and terminology, you need to ensure that every word included in the transcript is as precise as possible. Otherwise, learners with hearing impairments may misinterpret important information.

Assistive technology can take the form of reading the text aloud, presenting visually, or converting to braille, symbols, or sign language.


Audio is not the only important component of learning; video too must do its job in conveying essential information to learners. Here are some things to keep in mind when creating accessible eLearning videos:

Are there accurate transcripts for all video-only files?

The transcripts need to convey any information displayed in prerecorded video-only content for all users. These allow people who have difficulty perceiving visual content to understand the material.

For the visually-impaired, time-based media using audio makes information accessible. Wording must be rendered through any sensory modality (i.e. audio or tactile) to match their needs. assistive technology can take the form of reading the text aloud or converting the text to braille.

Transcripts are necessary for those who are blind or trouble understanding and seeing visuals.

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Are there any incidents of flashing lights during the video?

Keeping flashing lights and sudden movements to a minimum in your videos will give learners the chance to consume valuable learning content without suffering a photosensitivity-induced seizure. Reducing any flashing material can help individuals suffering from seizures, photosensitive epilepsy, and related disorders

Are viewers able to pause or stop a video?

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Having a pause or stop button located on the video allows learners to maintain their interaction without distraction. This is particularly essential for motion- and time-sensitive content

Those with certain disabilities need content that quits blinking after five seconds or that at the very least features a mechanism that stops it from blinking. This allows users to remain engaged.

While blinking might be reasonable for the visually-impaired, it can prove ineffective for those with low literacy, reading and intellectual disabilities, and attention deficit disorders

Is a non-color method used to help understand color in videos?

The non-color method allows learners with limited color vision, color blindness, or trouble distinguishing between colors and braille readers to receive and obtain information.

Do all the text and captions meet the standard contrast ratio of 4.5:1 or greater?

The contrast between text and its background is a must for people with moderately low vision. This allows learners to distinguish between readable material and background elements.

Many times, the video – both motion and text – needs this luminance ratio to help those with low visibility to assess reading hue and saturation legibly. It is especially handy for those with a limited color range or color blindness.

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Are the captions accurate and synchronized?

Captions are crucial for learners who are deaf or hard of hearing but still want to interact and participate in the learning process. 508 compliance says captions not only include dialogue but also identify speakers and meaningful sounds and effects.

Moreover,  captioned language allows those with hearing impairments to take and view audio information by watching synchronized media.

Do any parts of the video require an audio description? Or is there an audio description version available?

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In a learning video, the audio description usually presents the information not available in certain places throughout the video. The audio description also usually gives full or minimal details about actions, characters, scene changes, and on-screen text not properly displayed.

Therefore, audio descriptions are crucial for the blind and for those with low vision and difficulty interpreting visual content.

Online Video/Live Streaming

If you plan on offering your eLearning videos online, you can help ensure that they are accessible to all learners by asking yourself these questions:

Do the instructions avoid relying on too many sensory effects?

Some learners suffer from a lack of perception when it comes to shape, size, location, or orientation. With this in mind, it may be best to skip the bells and whistles that distract from the content of the video and instead focus on visual features. This can potentially isolate learners with perception troubles.

Additionally, learners who are blind or have low vision need information other than shape and/or location to fully understand what is being conveyed in the video.

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Can users react to elements using both a mouse and keyboard?

People with visual impairments may struggle to learn with a mouse. The same goes for individuals suffering from hand tremors. These individuals need assistive technology such as speech input software, sip-and-puff software, on-screen keyboards, and scanning software to complete watching videos.

Are all visual elements focused during a presentation?

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Those with short-term memory or cognitive limitations have trouble focusing on visual elements, especially when they must focus on multiple visuals at once and complete certain tasks on the keyboard.

For those individuals with cognitive issues, the video needs keyboard functions to allow interaction with visual elements.

Does the stream or video avoid keyboard “traps” when a user is watching or listening?

“Trap” keyboard focus can lead to problems with multiple functions when viewing and listening to videos. This is especially true for those who are blind and or who have physical disabilities.

With videos, people who depend on a keyboard interface or commands need some assistive technology to help view and listen to the video. “Traps” make it more difficult for them to use this technology.

Does the video or stream avoid an exit disclaimer when a user is watching or listening?

Learners may sometimes stumble upon an exit disclaimer when watching a video. This can lead to missing context for those dealing with visual, cognitive, and motor disabilities. To remedy that, videos can either submit forms or launch in a new window, allowing predictable functionality.

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Does every frame of the content display accurate titles?

Using assistive technologies (AT) can help keep users’ status for title displays. Learners should be able to identify titles from the start to ensure that they are where they need to be in the lesson.

Are the roles of certain elements clear for those using assistive technology?

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As has been mentioned in previous points in this checklist, many learners with disabilities use assistive technology (AT) to help them navigate lessons with ease. Unfortunately, this can be difficult to do when the learning material is not compatible with the AT. Set learners up for success from the start by making it clear where to click to start and where to pause for those using AT.


eLearning should be accesible for everyone! Making sure audio and video media comply with accessibility rules is essential for all eLearning video creators. Fortunately, this 508 compliance checklist should help you create content that teaches learners of all types, regardless of their limitations

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