On-line Course: REHAB 711 Designing Universally Accessible Web Resources

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

University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign


Problems of Web Design

Traditional web design focuses on backward compatibility with legacy graphical browser technology and assumes users view information on 800x600 or 1024x768 pixel graphical displays. In reality people are using the web with a wider range of technologies and the techniques used to design web resources to be compatible with portable and speech browser technologies are the same techniques to make content more accessible to people with disabilities. For example, LCD technology is creating displays with very high pixel densities (>.20mm dot pitch). Web pages designed using the 800x600 pixel model and use images to stylize text are slowly shrinking in size and readability as users with higher resolution monitors view these web resources. The types of web browsers people are using are also becoming more diverse and include browsers like Opera, Mozilla and Apple Safari so support for web standards is also more important, since compatibility with only Internet Explorer will exclude many potential users. People are also increasing their use of new pervasive 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. Resources can 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 everyone, including people with disabilities. All users have 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.

More accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities!

Course Outline

Who Should Take This Course?

This course is designed for web developers and adminstrators to learn about the disability access issues faced by people with disabilities in using the web and how web resources can be designed to not only improve accessibility for people with disabilities, but also me more accessible to everyone and easier for web developers to maintain through the use of web standards. 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 web standards based HTML and CSS techniques that can be used to improve accessibility and interoperability of web resources. Captioning of multimedia materials is also covered for Microsoft Media Player, Real Player and Quicktime, and the accessibility of non-W3C technologies like Microsoft Office, PDF and Flash will also be discussed.

What does on-line mean?

The course is will be offered over the web and students will receive a CD-ROM of the software demonstrated or used in the course. Students are expected to have their own computer system and we will be using the Elluminate on-line collaboration system as part of the course. Potential participants who are concerned about accessibility issues accessibility should contact the instructor as soon as possible.