The National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) is an organization of state administrators of unemployment insurance laws, employment services, training programs, employment statistics, labor market information and other programs and services provided through the publicly-funded state workforce system. The Information Technology Support Center (ITSC) is an organization within NASWA, established as a national resource by the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employment and Training Administration (ETA) to assist all state unemployment insurance agencies in the area of unemployment insurance information technology.
The DOL required online courses that would provide conformity and compliance training to state unemployment compensation directors, commissioners, deputy directors, agency counsel, legislative liaisons, and anyone in the agency directly involved in the policymaking process that can influence the content of legislation affecting state unemployment compensation laws and regulations. Another important DOL requirement was compliance with the Section 508 Amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, commonly referred to simply as 508. Every part of each course was required to follow Section 508 guidelines for accessibility.
The DOL sought to replace a week-long in-person training seminar with an online alternative that would not only provide effective learning but ultimately save money on travel expenses and other costs associated with in-person training. The online courses will now be the main focus of the NASWA-ITSC and the DOL’s education program, and they plan to supplement the experience with webinars, which will provide learners with an opportunity to speak with experts on unemployment compensation regulations.
Learners had to fully grasp content that had once been thoroughly explained in person. In order to do this, Web Courseworks developed multimedia versions of these explanations.
Included in the multimedia explanations were diagrams, images, explainer audio, and access to printable resources. It was critical that the wording of the content stayed true to source material, since proper interpretation of statutes and regulations was a top priority. Web Courseworks worked very closely with the clients to maintain information integrity while developing explanations that were both useful and informative. For example, because money associated with unemployment compensation is distributed or transferred at various times of the year on specific dates, WCW instructional designers developed a series of interactive timelines to explain when and why such distributions and transfers occurred. We also effectively used diagrams with synched audio to explain complex legal processes.
All courses included an easy-to-understand menu system with quick access to a glossary and printable resources. Since content was developed with the ability for the learner to reference it at any time in mind, access to printable resources and job aids was an important consideration for the client.
Compliance with Section 508 was maintained throughout all 11 courses using an extensive set of technical specifications and best practices developed for the project. All elements on each page were accessible via the keyboard. Thorough testing was done on each course to verify that screen readers (namely JAWS, the world’s most popular screen reader) would function properly with all content. Everything, from converting image-based text into screen-reader accessible text to ensuring externally-linked resources were also converted into accessible formats, was taken into account. Furthermore, each element’s ability to be accessed by the screen reader was taken into careful consideration; elements not vital to a learner’s understanding were excluded from keyboard accessibility to limit the amount of needless tabbing that a visually impaired learner would need to do.
Web Courseworks instructional designers are adept at assembling courses in multiple course authoring tools. For NASWA-ITSC and the DOL, Web Courseworks delivered on their request that the courses be assembled in Articulate Storyline.
Web Courseworks was able to assemble and deliver the 11 courses that NASWA-ITSC and DOL required while meeting the rigorous requirements for authoring, deployment and use of source material. All learning objectives in the place-based version are addressed in the online version, and content that had been meticulously developed over years of in-person seminars was carefully tailored for an online audience.
Full Section 508 compliance was accomplished using the techniques previously discussed. Each course was developed and tested with JAWS compatibility in mind. WCW’s goal was to make our courses work as fluidly as possible for learners requiring accessibility features.
The client is now able to provide effective education at a lower cost, and can continue to provide state agency and legislative staff with all of the information they require to ensure the federal function of unemployment compensation law, regulations, rules and operations are accomplished.