2001 Conference Proceedings

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Creating Web Sites Using Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning(TM) Principles

Michael Cooper, David Grogan, Kathleen O'Connell, Elizabeth (Boo) Murray, Ph.D.
CAST, 39 Cross St., Peabody, MA 01960, USA
E-mail: mcooper@cast.org

CAST's research into Universal Design for Learning (UDL) has underscored the importance of accessibility of content. If it is not accessible to persons with disabilities, it may not be not easily usable by other people as well. The Web, emerging as a an important way to support learning, needs principles of accessibility and universal design to emerge early on so that it can develop optimally. The World Wide Web Consortium has created guidelines for accessibility, and CAST created a software tool called Bobby to support users in using these guidelines. In addition, the guidelines are reflected in the design of the CAST web site, which strives to be a model of accessible web design that is appealing to and usable by all users.

With this experience, the next step for CAST has been to create UDL guidelines. These guidelines expand on the accessibility guidelines, adding information about site design that reflects the three principles of UDL:

Guidelines about universal design should reflect those features in their own design, in order for them to be usable not only by technical people but by lay people who wish to create good web content. One step of this is to expand Bobby to support the guidelines. Users of Bobby will be able, if they wish, to test web sites for UDL features as well as accessibility features. The guidelines also take advantage of the flexibility of their own web incarnation to adapt themselves to the needs of particular readers.

During the presentation, the UDL guidelines will be described. Model implementations of the guidelines from CAST's and other web sites will be shown, as a means of illustrating what they mean in practice. Specific ways to implement the guidelines in web sites, both technical and non-technical, will be shown. There will also be tips on how to use Bobby to aid in web design.


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