Accessibility and Universal Design

Good design is universal. A web page should be accessible whether you are using Firefox or Internet Explorer, a Mac or a Windows PC, and whether or not you are visually or hearing impaired. In this workshop, you will learn about accessible web page design and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Learn how to develop accessible web pages and multimedia components in a browser-based environment that meet ADA (Section 508) and W3C standards. Learn about accommodations you will need to make if a student discloses a disability, and about resources that are available to help you meet their needs.

What is it?

For our purpose, it means making your online course or web page accessible to the broadest possible number of people.

When does it apply?

It is good practice to make your content accessible in advance of any request to do so.
A student must disclose to you in advance that they have a disability so that you can make an accommodation (if necessary).
When given notice, you must check your content to determine how to address the student's needs.

Common situations:

  • a student with a learning disability who requires more time when taking tests
  • a student with a broken arm who requires assistance with data entry
  • a blind student who uses a screen reader such as JAWS
  • a hearing impaired student who needs a text transcript of videos
  • a person with reduced vision requires a large text, high contrast version of the content.
  • There are some notable exceptions: for example, Nursing is a career where sight and hearing are basic job requirements.

    Why does it matter?

    It's the law. (Rehabilitation Act, Americans with Disabilities Act)
    It's nice to help the disabled.
    Most of us will need either a temporary or permanent accomodation at some point.
    Accessibility is good for everyone--curb cuts are necessary for wheelchairs, but also help people with baby strollers, bicycles, rollerblades.

    How do I do it?

    Text: Text should be legible against the background, and text size should be adjustable.
    Images: Use the ALT tag to label the image or LONGDESC tag to provide a more detailed description when appropriate.
    Multimedia: Provide text captioning of video and text transcripts of audio.
    Hypertext links: Use informative text that makes sense when read out of context such as "view my grades" rather than "click here."
    Page Organization: Use headings, lists, and consistent structure. Use CSS for layout and style where possible.
    Animations, Graphs and Charts: Summarize or use the LONGDESC tag.
    Scripts, Applets, Plug-ins: Provide alternative content if content is inaccessible.
    Frames: Avoid use of frames, as they cause problems for screen readers like JAWS.
    Flicker: Avoid any elements that flicker or blink, as they are annoying and can in rare cases cause seizures.
    Color: While color can and should be used to convey meaning, it must not be the only method. GO / STOP is better than / or STOP / GO
    Tables: Use tables for data, not for page layout. Use the summary tag. Tables are good for the eye (because we read down the columns), but not the ear (because the screen reader reads across the rows).
    Validate: Use tools, checklists, and guidelines

    Where can I get help?


    Disability Resources: