2004 Conference Proceedings

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Daria Ettinger, BSN
Charlotte Duncan, MA
Sue Blanchard, BS
Richard Appleyard, PhD
Gloria Krahn, PhD

Richard Appleyard
Oregon Institute on Disability & Development,
Child Development and Rehabilitation Center
Oregon Health & Science University
707 SW Gaines Road, Suite 3213
Portland, OR, 97239-2901. USA
Phone: 503-494-1230
Email: appleyar@ohsu.edu


The Oregon Institute on Disability and Development (OIDD), the has developed an integrated Web site and searchable database to serve as a portal to information on the programs of the Administration of Developmental Disabilities (ADD) to enable them to collaborate more efficiently and also to showcase their work to a broad and diverse audience. The site has been designed to exceed current standards in Web accessibility and meet the interface needs of a diverse group of people with disabilities.


The rapid advance in use of Web-based communication and information dissemination is fundamentally altering the way that information is accessed and shared. The Internet has created significant new opportunities for the flow of program knowledge generated by ADD-funded programs. These programs are the vanguard of America's creation and dissemination of knowledge that benefits citizens with developmental disabilities and their families. While these programs are prolific producers of information and new knowledge, traditional dissemination mechanisms are sometimes unsuccessful in distributing information broadly or making it easily accessible to diverse audiences. The Internet technologies now make broad dissemination possible for a relatively small investment.

Web portals serve to gather information in a comprehensive format and assist users in locating and using information on the Internet by funneling and channeling information into more readily accessible and usable formats. The ADDUp.org Web site is an integrated portal to information on the Administration of Development Disabilities (ADD) portfolio of programs; University Centers of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), Projects of National Significance (PNS), Developmental Disability Councils (DDC), and Protection and Advocacy Centers (P&A). ADDUp.org provides central organization, information coherence, technical assistance and networking to over 180 disparate and disconnected organizations representing every state and territory in the US. The primary audience served by ADDUp.org are the ADD programs themselves, but other potential audiences include members of Congress, other federal agencies, state legislators, disability advocacy groups, individuals with disabilities and family groups.

The site addresses the interface needs of people with developmental disabilities through the creation of multi-sensory and icon-based methods of interaction using a variety of effective, affordable and accessible electronic communication mediums. The site also supports multiple authoring and multiple media for input and access, allowing contact persons from the programs to securely review and edit their own information.

The methodology used included an extensive audience analysis to determine the informational needs amongst the diverse audience. From that, a database schema was developed and a prototype Web site was created. This prototype allowed accessibility, functionality, and usability testing amongst representative users from the primary audience, which included a number of people with disabilities. This provided a report of recommendations and possible enhancements to further guide the Web site development. One of the real challenges identified was the need for standard terminology and descriptors across the different programs, the different reporting requirements and the disparate databases that existed. A mechanism was therefore developed to inherit applicable data items from existing data sources thus avoiding redundant efforts on the part of the contributing programs.

From this a very clean, uncluttered Web design was created. The main site search engine now accesses an extensive array of activities, products, contacts, and provides direct Web links to these resources. Presentations of the site to representative groups of the primary audience have received a very favorable response as indicated by Web traffic analysis.

Next steps include promoting ADDUp.org to a wider audience for practical every day usage and addressing issues related to content currency and ongoing sustainability. Additional functionality now includes a resource library, a searchable site archive, text-to-speech capability, and collaborative forums. One of the challenges is to decide about how to promote and stimulate dialog around issues of developmental disabilities between persons and organizations that have had few opportunities for online interaction.

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