Being able to navigate learning content creates a smooth user experience. In many cases, this is something that is determined by the authoring tool, but there are some things you can do too. In this spotlight, we look at 3 criteria for ease of navigation.
WCAG 2.4.1 Bypass Blocks (A) mainly supports keyboard- and screen reader users. The aim is to prevent these users from navigating through content that is repeated on multiple pages or slides of the learning experience. For example, if you have an eLearning course, the navigation elements, such as the menu on the left-hand side and glossaries or resources on the top bar are consistent throughout. For mouse users and sighted learners, this is not a problem, because they can just focus on the main content straight away. However, keyboard users may have to tap through, while screen reader users may have to listen to all the other elements before they can access the learning content. That’s why there should be a mechanism in place to bypass these repetitive blocks.
This is usually determined by the authoring tool. Most authoring tools support this to some extent, but it might be limited to their built-in features or you may need to set it up. You should check your authoring tool’s conformance report.
2.4.5 Multiple ways (AA) is about giving learners different options to navigate the learning experience and find specific content. This is mainly achieved by allowing learners to jump to specific content by having an open navigation, and including an interactive menu or table of contents. You may also consider adding search functionality, links to other sections, or breadcrumbs.
While this criterion supports open navigation, it allows exceptions for processes that must be completed in a particular order. That means that a course with closed navigation wouldn’t necessarily fail this requirement, however, it’s considered best practice to use open navigation whenever possible.
Finally, 2.4.8 Location (AAA) is an advanced criterion that requires that learners be able to identify where they are within the course or learning material at any given moment. Location information helps learners maintain context and stay oriented and it’s especially helpful for individuals with cognitive disabilities.
This can be achieved by using a progress indicator that tells learners which page, slide, or question they’re on and out of how many (eg: Page 3 out of 8). You can also use breadcrumbs (eg: Home > Chapter > Topic) to show learners where they are in the hierarchy of the course. Other examples include indicating the current page in the navigation menu or using clear and informative page titles and headers.