Accessible Design: AIDC22 Recap

A group of people with disabilities, including a wheelchair user, a blind woman, and others with unspecified or invisible disabilities.
This post recaps accessible design principles and resources from TLDC’s 2022 Accessible and Inclusive Design Conference (AIDC).

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Accessible design is a critical part of inclusion. Last week, TLDC hosted another stellar event—the Accessible and Inclusive Design Conference (AIDC). The conference focused on helping L&D professionals understand how to be more inclusive by designing for accessibility.

The event included the following sessions:

Bookmark the event website for easier access to all recordings.

Think Inclusion, Not Compliance

The more we know our audience and how they interact with our content, the more inclusive we can be.

If our focus is only on compliance with Section 508 or a certain WCAG level, we will probably end up doing the bare minimum. A compliance focus can result in “technically accessible” courses that aren’t user-friendly and don’t consider accessibility needs not currently covered under the existing standards, such as those of most neurodivergent individuals. 

Belo Miguel Cipriani shared the frustrations he regularly experiences navigating online information. When he reaches out for accessibility assistance, he’s told “it’s compliant” (when clearly, it’s not accessible). He told a story about trying to complete a contact form to alert a website owner of accessibility issues, but being unable to submit his feedback because of an inaccessible Captcha form. 

A compliance mindset also adds to the dread many people feel about accessibility. Rather than thinking of accessibility as something we “HAVE to do,” we need to shift our focus, as Alan Natachu mentioned. Instead, let’s think, “this is something I GET to do!” We have the privilege of helping people of all abilities learn and get better at their jobs. 

Professional development shouldn’t be some exclusive club that only non-disabled people are allowed to join.

If I’m designing your learning, is it my job to decide who gets to get better at their job?

As Chuck Adams pointed out, accessibility is a human right. In fact, accessibility is Article 9 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), adopted by the United Nations in 2006.

Diane Elkins and Amy Morrisey encouraged us to think in terms of who deserves professional development opportunities. The answer, of course, is EVERYONE.

Diversity and Inclusion Can't Exist without Accessibility

As I’ve seen on a T-shirt, if you embrace diversity but ignore disability, you’re doing it wrong. (Original source: Corinne Gray.) 

If you're going to be inclusive, you must be accessible.

Bela discussed what she called inclusive accessibility. Part of providing access to everyone is making sure everyone is included. For everyone to feel included, we need to make sure that everyone can see themselves in our courses.

Help people recognize themselves in your courses.

Bela listed several groups who are often excluded: LGBTQIA+ individuals, immigrants, people whose first language isn’t English, those with mental health challenges, neurodivergent people, Black people, Indigenous people, People of Color, Muslims and others representing non-Christian religions, elderly people, fat people . . .

Inclusion means everyone.

Ask, am I making a person feel "other"?

When you commit to accessible design, the person you’re helping might be yourself. As Chris Paxton McMillin pointed out, people with disabilities make up the largest marginalized group in the world, and it’s the only group that any of us could join at any time.

Yes, Your Organization Has Disabled Learners

One of the most common objections from decision-makers that we hear when we talk about accessible design is, “We don’t need that. We don’t have any users with disabilities.” 

Don't pretend to know your audience.

There is no way to know for certain how many employees with disabilities your organization has, or what kinds of disabilities they include. Disabilities are vastly underreported, due to stigma, fear of negative impacts to one’s career, and other reasons. Many disabilities are invisible or aren’t immediately visible if you’re not paying attention.

The only safe assumption is that if there aren’t already people with disabilities working in your organization, there will be. And, as Diane Elkins asked, if your organization doesn’t have disabled employees, why not? What obstacles are being placed in their path?

Make an effort to get to know the needs of your learners. That doesn’t mean asking them to disclose their disabilities. Ask them what they need to be successful.

Disability is not a bad word. Please say it.

Progress Over Perfection

Unfortunately, Meryl Evans was not one of the speakers at the event, but her name came up several times as the speakers reiterated her catch phrase, “Progress Over Perfection.”

Diane Elkins reminded us not to let perfection get in the way of making real change—because aiming for perfection can cause us to get overwhelmed or give up. We should focus on what we CAN do rather than what we can’t do.

As Belo Miguel Cipriani pointed out, “there’s no such thing as 100 percent accessibility.” What’s accessible for one person might not be accessible to another. The goal is to get close and make the learning experiences we design accessible to the most people possible.

Random Takeaways

Here are some other tidbits from the conference, in no particular order. I highly recommend watching the recordings.

  • The optimal length of a caption in a video is 32 characters.
  • In videos, moving the chyron that identifies the speaker in a video to the upper third can help ensure that it doesn’t interfere with captions.
  • Adding accessibility instructions into the Storyline description field in the Publish panel is helpful for users with disabilities. Likewise, we should include a button on the screen at all times to display accessibility instructions.
  • The built-in Likert scale in Storyline is not accessible.
  • When creating keyboard shortcuts in Storyline, use Ctrl+Alt+____, for better user-friendliness for assistive technology users. Avoid overriding the built-in shortcuts.
  • Avoid using Shift+Enter to force headings onto a second line when working in Storyline.
  • There are 300+ JAWS commands!
  • Don’t assume that assistive technology users are advanced users. Only about 10 percent of the disability community are advanced users.
  • About 70 percent of autistic people also have ADHD.
  • Allow 1/3 to 1/5 of the development time for integrating accessibility.


The presenters and participants shared many accessibility resources throughout the day, which are listed below. If you prefer, I’ve also compiled these resources into a downloadable list

You can also view these resources on the event website.

Please report any broken links to (Or comment below.)

Accessibility Standards/Guidance


General Accessibility Tools

There is no automated tool that can accomplish what a person can do with a manual test.

Development Tools

Captioning Tools

Checklists, Guides, and eBooks

Accessible Design Videos, Posts, and a Podcast

Companies That Perform Accessibility Testing

  • Oleb Media—digital accessibility testing by users with disabilities
  • Access Works—usability and accessibility testing by users with disabilities
  • Equal Entry—accessibility consultants, including those with IAAP certifications
  • MicroAssist—accessibility audits and VPAT consulting
  • Deque—accessibility audits and remediation
  • Interactive Advantage—Section 508/WCAG testing with DHS Trusted Tester status

Accessible Design Courses and Tutorials



People to Follow

For Learning about Accessible Design and Disabilities

For Learning About XR

XR, Emerging Tech, and the Future of Accessibility

Sources for Diverse Images

Assistive Technology Access

Learning Frameworks/Models

Miscellaneous Resources


I left out one resource that was shared via chat, for a VR platform that aims to teach life skills for neurodivergent people. The company is associated with practices and organizations that autistic people consider harmful, so I don’t feel comfortable sharing it.

If I missed any other links shared during the conference, it was purely by accident. Feel free to let me know in the comments. (Also tell me if you encounter any broken links, please!)

More To Explore


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