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Accessibility and Inclusion in Instructor-Led Training (ILT)

Is your ILT designed with accessibility and inclusion in mind? Gwen Navarrete Klapperich wants to make sure you consider accessibility and inclusion in your ILT design, and offers some suggestions on how to do just that.
accessibility with Gwen Klapperich

Accessibility and Inclusion are hot topics in the world of L&D today. When it comes to accessibility in particular, the conversation often revolves around elearning design and development, 508 compliance and WCAG standards.

Gwen Navarrete Klapperich is looking to broaden the conversation so that instructor-led training design and delivery is included. Recently I had a chance to talk with Gwen about what, specifically, instructional designers and trainers of ILT can do to be more inclusive and offer content and instruction that is accessible for all.

Introduction 

Brian Washburn: Welcome, everyone, to another episode of Train Like You Listen, a podcast about all things learning and development in bite-sized chunks. I’m Brian Washburn. I’m the Co-founder of Endurance Learning, and I am your host. I’m joined here today by Gwen Navarrete Klapperich, who is from the Klapperich International Training Associates, LLC, which is a talent development consulting firm that advocates for inclusive and accessible learning. And today we’re actually going to be talking about accessibility in learning, particularly when it comes to instructor-led training or virtual instructor-led training. A lot of times we think of accessibility in eLearning, but let’s talk about ILT and VILT today.

Before we get into any of that, I want to let you know that today’s podcast is brought to you by Endurance Learning’s new L&D Professionals Academy. It’s an academy designed for people looking to break into the space of L&D. We’ll cover areas such as adult learning theory, instructor-led training design, eLearning design, change management, and project management. If you’d like more information, go ahead and visit us at www.endurancelearning.com/academy.

Gwen, hello. How are you?

Gwen Navarrete Klapperich: I’m great, how are you?

Brian Washburn: I’m doing great. I’m really excited about this conversation. We were talking a few days ago, and you were telling me about some of the projects that you’re working on, and you really raised my interest here because you said you were working on some projects focused on inclusivity and accessibility, which lots of people are working on. But a lot of times when we hear, especially the accessibility piece, we hear stuff about eLearning, not necessarily instructor-led training. So, I would love to get into that.

Six-Word Biography 

Brian Washburn: But before we get into any of that, I’d love for you to introduce yourself to our guests with a six-word biography here.

Gwen Navarrete Klapperich: My six-word bio, here we go: “Training geek passionate about inclusive learning.”

Brian Washburn: That is perfect and that sums up what we’re going to be talking about today. So, when we talk about accessibility and inclusion, these are hot topics. Like, you can look everywhere on LinkedIn, you can look through ATD Magazine articles. These are the hot topics right now, and they’re often mentioned in the same sentence. Can you start here by telling us what is the difference between accessibility and inclusion? Or are they the same thing here? Are people just using them synonymously?

What is the Difference Between Accessibility and Inclusion?

Gwen Navarrete Klapperich: That’s a really great question. You know, there is a difference. Accessibility is really the specific removal of barriers that can prevent people, not just people with disabilities, but people in general from participating fully in society. Whereas inclusion is ensuring that all people are valued and that they are involved in all aspects of society. So, inclusion, meaning the opposite of exclusion; accessibility is, basically, the giving of access to people. And it’s more broad– so inclusion is more broad as it relates to everyone whereas accessibility provides specific tools in order for people with disabilities or limited access, so that they can have the same experience that people without those things can have.

Brian Washburn: People who are listening might have different definitions of these or may have different understandings, but I appreciate you defining that in that way so that when people are listening, these are the definitions that they’ll be thinking about – at least for the purposes of this conversation. And so, generally speaking, when I hear the term accessibility, I hear it in the context of self-guided eLearning, especially with things like the need for 508 compliance or WCAG, which I believe are specifically aimed at eLearning design. What are some of the specific examples of what accessibility would look like? And why is it important to instructor-led training, whether that’s in-person or it’s virtual?

What Accessibility Looks Like in Instructor-Led Training

Not only is it the right thing to do, when you add accessibility and inclusion to your learning design, you actually increase learning options and opportunities for everyone, not just people with disabilities.

Gwen Navarrete Klapperich: You know, I just wrote an article for TD Magazine about real-time accessibility. It was actually just published in the July issue. Accessibility really shouldn’t be limited to eLearning. It really needs to be incorporated into every learning experience. People with disabilities don’t just go online. They also go into your classrooms, whether it’s virtual or in-person. It’s just the right thing to do. But not only is it the right thing to do, when you add accessibility and inclusion to your learning design, you actually increase learning options and opportunities for everyone, not just people with disabilities.

closed captioning removes a barrier

So the example that I like to give is closed or open captioning. When you provide closed captioning in a training video or a virtual session, it’s not just for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. There could be somebody in a loud office with headphones on, you know, who’s trying to absorb learning content and just can’t hear, and closed captioning will help with that. And then for in-person training, whether it’s virtual or in-person. I do like to have what’s called the open captioning feature, which is built into PowerPoint or Google Slides. And this allows people to follow along with what I’m saying, even if they’re in the back of the room, or if closed captioning is unavailable for some reason on the platform. So it basically is– it’s not perfect but it allows me to remove a specific barrier that people would have, not just those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Although, I did have a learner at a conference tell me she walked in and she saw the open captioning below my PowerPoint slide and she said, “You know, I’m deaf and I’m hard of hearing.” And she said, “I’ve been struggling all day. And I’m going to cry because you’re the first person who’s had this up.” So, you know–

Brian Washburn: If I could just stop you right here, because this might be a feature that a lot of people who are listening aren’t aware of. And so can you explain a little bit more about how it works, what a facilitator needs to do to enable it, and then you know what it looks like for the participant?

Gwen Navarrete Klapperich: Yeah. So for PowerPoint, it’s really simple. You just go to where slideshow is on your menu, and then you click a little box on the right that says “Always use subtitles,” and you choose English as the language – the spoken and written language – and then it pops up in real-time what you’re saying. Now, I do notice that if I’m behind the microphone, it picks it up really accurately. If I’m in front of the microphone, say in a room, then it doesn’t pick it up as accurately. So, just–

Brian Washburn: And when you talk about the microphone, are you talking about the built-in mic in the computer or whatever the microphone and computer is connected to?

Gwen Navarrete Klapperich: Yeah, the built-in microphone on the computer or a microphone that you have. So it works for me a lot better in virtual training than it does in actual in-person training, so.

If people leave with nothing else, hopefully that's a new kind of feature that people: A) are aware exists, and B) the importance of it.

Brian Washburn: Thank you. I mean, just– if people leave with nothing else, hopefully that’s a new kind of feature that people: A) are aware exists, and B) the importance of it. I want to switch our focus here just briefly from accessibility to specific– accessibility really has– I mean there’s some laws around it, right?

Gwen Navarrete Klapperich: Mhm.

Brian Washburn: But when it comes to inclusive design, there don’t seem to be any legal or industry standards around it. Why is inclusive design important? And what does it look like in an instructor-led environment?

Small Ways of Increasing Accessibility in Instructor-Led Training

Gwen Navarrete Klapperich: You know, that’s a really good point. I will say that for in-person and virtual training, this can fall under the American with Disabilities Act, which requires organizations to provide accommodations for people with disabilities, especially if they offer a public service. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be a large organization that are required to follow it. I know of small organizations that have been fined by the EEOC because they didn’t provide accommodations. So these are things that should be included in the classroom environment.

It's not like this is a complete overhaul of the way we do training and development. It's just adding those little low hanging fruit that can help increase accessibility for everybody.

So instructor-led environments – there are many small things that can help people with or without disabilities to get more out of the class. So one is to send materials ahead of time, so that people with different cognitive levels or different cognitive abilities can absorb the materials and be more prepared to participate in class content. It also helps those who use screen readers, especially in virtual training environments. And then you know, for in-person training, it’s really simple things like optimized seating, clear navigation throughout the classroom. And there are things that we’re already doing as trainers, which is to make the audio clear, the lighting and the video quality are good. Things like that we’re already doing, so it’s not like this is a complete overhaul of the way we do training and development. It’s just adding those little low hanging fruit that can help increase accessibility for everybody.

And then as far as the standard is concerned, we still follow section 508 and WCAG. It’s just not as common because those two are specifically geared towards eLearning. But you know, the law for section 508 actually says any type of electronic learning, so that actually does include virtual learning.

Brian Washburn: This is so interesting. And so the last question that I have here is really around design and design intent. So what do you think differentiates between someone just going through the motions, right, and putting accessible and/or inclusive design components into a learning experience to check a box, right? Because it’s something they were told was important. It’s something that you just said the law says you have to do. What differentiates between that kind of design and someone who embraces the spirit and the importance behind accessible and inclusive design?

How to Truly Embrace Accessible and Inclusive Training Design

It was not like, "Okay, did I do accessibility? Check the box." It's a continuous consideration of providing learner experiences without barriers.

Gwen Navarrete Klapperich: You know, that’s a really great question. If someone who embraces the spirit and importance of accessible and inclusive design will think about it from the very, very beginning of the design process and it’s incorporated throughout the design process. It’s not just an afterthought. It was not like, “Okay, did I do accessibility? Check the box.” It’s a continuous consideration of providing learner experiences without barriers. And it’s also in the language that’s used.

So a really great example that I can give you is at ATD ICE, this past May, Priya Parker, who’s did the second keynote she wrote a book called The Art of Gathering. What she said was– she had a little exercise and what she said was, “If it is available to you, I invite you to stand.” And that was really inclusive of so many people, not just people who use wheelchairs, but people who just couldn’t stand for whatever reason.

People who are intentional about inclusion will consider these things when designing their slide decks, training materials, and how they're designing how they actually will deliver the class.

And you know it also– the intention is also part of the diversity that’s represented in the images of the slides. So do you have people or different cultures, different sizes, people with disabilities? Are they portrayed throughout your images? So people who are intentional about inclusion will consider these things when designing their slide decks, training materials, and how they’re designing how they actually will deliver the class.

Brian Washburn: That all makes sense. Gwen, is there anything else that you wanted to add on the topic before we wrap up here?

Designing Instructor-Led Training with Accessibility and Inclusion From the Start

Gwen Navarrete Klapperich: Just that it’s not hard to get started. It can seem overwhelming at first and I will not– I’ll be honest in saying that when you incorporate accessibility and inclusion throughout the design process, it actually makes it a little bit longer, but It’s actually longer if you were to go back and fix things than if you were to just incorporate it from the very beginning. So that’s what I would encourage everybody to do. And, you know, just start small with what you can do and then add as you can along the way.

Brian Washburn: And Gwen, where can people find you if they want to know more information or if they need some help putting together a program that reflects the values of inclusivity and accessibility?

Gwen Navarrete Klapperich: Sure. I mean, I’m on LinkedIn, but you can also find me at my website, which is www.kitaconsult.com. And then you know, people can call me, people can email me. I’m happy to give you that contact information.

Brian Washburn: Gwen, thank you so much for giving me some time here today. And thank you everyone else for listening. I think this topic is really important when it comes to how we design and thinking about the folks that we’re designing for. So if you know somebody else who might find today’s topic to be really important, go ahead and pass a link along for this podcast. It could be something that you get from Spotify or just from our website on www.endurancelearning.com. If you are interested in learning more about a broad range of learning and development strategies, you can go ahead and pick up a copy of my book: What’s Your Formula? Combine Learning Elements for Impactful Training at www.amazon.com. And until next time, happy training, everyone.

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