Universal Web Design Workshop

Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services (CITES) and Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES)

University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign


Location and Date

Two day hands on workshop in designing universally accessible web resources

Problems of Web Design

Traditional web design focuses on backward compatibility with legacy graphical browser technology and assumes users view information on 800x600 pixel graphical displays. In reality people are using the web with a wider range of technologies and that accessibility to people with disabilities is increasingly becoming a more important design issue. For example, LCD technology is creating displays with very high pixel densities (>.20mm dot pitch). Web pages designed using the 800x600 model and use images to stylize text are slowly shrinking in size and readability as more users use them. The types of web browsers people are using are also becoming more diverse and include browsers like Opera, Mozilla and Apple Safari. People are also increasing their use of new web browsing technologies like voice output telephone browsers and small screen personal digital assistants (PDA).

How do you design web resources to meet the needs of all these different technologies?

Universal Design

Universal design focuses on making web resources compatible with the widest range of web browsing technologies which can also easily adapt to the needs and capabilities of users through the use of web standards. Web standards are all about the concept of “interoperability”, the ability of people to access and exchange information on a wide range of computing technologies and operating systems. The use of universal design principles makes web resources more accessible to people with disabilities, which results in all users having more choices and control over how they view and use web resources. Users with visual impairments can easily increase font size using the text scaling features of browsers. People who want to view two different web pages side by side can change the widow width of their browser and content re-flows to fit the size of the window. A PDA user can apply a user style sheet to view only the headings of a web page to get an overview of the topics, without having to do endless scrolling through text on a small screen.

Workshop Outline

Who Should Attend this Workshop?

This workshop is designed for web content developers to learn about the disability access issues faced by people with disabilities in using the web and how web resources can be designed to improve accessibility. The course provides a foundation on how people with disabilities access information on the web using mainstream browsers and specialized assistive technologies like speech renderings. Participants will learn about the two main standards for web accessibility, the W3C Web Content Accessibility Standards and the Section 508 requirements for web materials. The strengths and weaknesses of different evaluation and repair tools will be presented to help participants understand how to use the available tools to evaluate and repair their web resources. Participants will learn about common HTML accessibility problems, and HTML and CSS techniques that can be used to improve accessibility.