In education, providing access to instructional materials and resources is important for any type of learning to occur. If students do not have access to the resources necessary for them to complete projects, perform research, retrieve data information, communicate with others, and so forth, then learning will be impaired. Universal access is a concept that describes the usability and accessibility to content and information by the largest range of people (Mills, 2006; Roblyer, 2006). Applied to the learning environment, universal design requires that the curriculum includes alternative methods for information access by individuals with different backgrounds, learning needs, abilities, and disabilities in various learning contexts. When this concept is applied to the design and development of Web pages, universal design is known specifically as Web accessibility. This overview discusses the importance of providing access to specific forms of computer and Internet technologies. In addition, the discussion will define technology accessibility (or universal access) why such access is needed, means of ensuring such access, and methods of evaluating accessibility.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Web Accessibility: Addresses access issues concerning Web pages so that users with visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological issues can view, retrieve, and interact with Web page components.
Accessibility Tools: Enabling certain options, features, and wizards in different computer systems to help disabled users use the computer.
Accessibility: Means of ensuring that people with visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological difficulties can access electronic information, software applications, Internet, and so forth.
Universal Design/Access: A concept that addresses educational access to all forms of technology and making certain that students with specific needs are accommodated by using alternative forms of instructional delivery and/or methods of instruction.