Making Learning Accessible with the Percipio Learning Experience Platform

September 3, 2019 | Activate Learning | 4 min read
Woman listening on airpods

Supporting accessibility is a key design aspect of Percipio, Skillsoft’s award-winning learning experience platform (LXP). Recently, we published Percipio’s voluntary product accessibility template (VPAT). It marks a key milestone in the ongoing development of the LXP as an engaging, inclusive content management system. Percipio LXP now conforms to Section 508/WCAG 2.0 A and AA accessibility standards, with some exceptions noted in its VPAT.

What is a VPAT, and why is it significant?

A VPAT is a standard document that vendors, like Skillsoft, use to describe how well their product conforms to accessibility standards. A VPAT provides our customers, and more importantly, our users, with an open and transparent assessment of how well our product conforms to accessibility standards. To create the Percipio LXP VPAT, we started by putting accessibility at the heart of our user experience (UX) and development processes. Then we conducted an accessibility audit and documented how well the LXP performs against each success criterion.

Why do we use “conform” instead of “comply”?

A company complies with these accessibility standards by stating how its products do, and do not, meet the standards. To “comply” suggests that a company meets 100% of the standards, which no company does. The term “conform” is used to show that a company is meeting the standards by self-identifying where its products do not meet the standards. Not meeting the standards is not a breach of the standards, but the failure to self-identify any shortcomings is a breach.

Standard accessibility guidelines

For web applications, US Federal agencies adhere to Section 508, which also encompasses Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 2.0 A and AA. The W3C develops WCAG and defines the functional requirements for a website to be considered “accessible”.

While Section 508 legislation currently requires compliance with WCAG 2.0, some organizations are interested in how we conform to the latest version of WCAG, i.e., WCAG 2.1. To satisfy both requirements, we have created two versions of the VPAT, one audited to WCAG 2.0 and the other audited to WCAG 2.1. Both VPATs are available in our Knowledgebase.

All success criteria from WCAG 2.0 are included in version 2.1. WCAG 2.1 provides 17 additional success criteria to address:

  • mobile accessibility
  • people with low vision
  • people with cognitive and learning disabilities

As noted above, Section 508 legislation currently requires compliance with WCAG 2.0 but not WCAG 2.1.

What’s in the Percipio LXP VPAT?

The VPAT details how:

  • Percipio LXP conforms to each WCAG success criterion, either by supporting it in full or partially supporting it. With “partially supports”, the VPAT provides additional information as to how the LXP may not yet support the criterion fully.
  • The VPAT also explains which parts of Percipio are not yet conformant and not covered by the VPAT. These are detailed up-front in the product description. For example, this VPAT does not cover Percipio Compliance, and it also does not cover any customer custom content hosted on the LXP. Some items that are not yet covered by the VPAT will have their own VPATs available in the future.
  • The VPAT also details how Percipio LXP was tested for accessibility. Evaluation methods included a full manual audit of all functionality in the following environments:
  • Desktop browsers: Internet Explorer 11, Firefox 58 on Window 10, Safari 12.1 on MacOS 10.14
  • Assistive technologies: JAWS 2019, NVDA 2019, Voiceover, Dragon Naturally Speaking, Windows High Contrast Mode
  • Accessibility testing tools: aXe, Color Contrast Analyzer, Web Developer Toolbar, browser developer tools

What can Percipio LXP users expect to have now?

Users of Percipio LXP now have a broad range of accessibility features, including:

  • Learning platform can be navigated by learners who use a keyboard and screen reader assistive technology
  • Media players provide captions and transcripts
  • Media players provide options to adjust caption text size and volume controls
  • Video content has an audio description track
  • Ability to disable video autoplay
  • Use of headings to communicate the organization of content
  • Page layouts can be resized (partially supports)
  • High contrast for readability and support for Windows high contrast themes
  • Images have text alternatives (partially supports)
  • Settings will persist from session to session (closed captions, audio description, autoplay, speed, caption size)

Kate McCarthy is the VP for Accessibility at Skillsoft.