Digital Equity, Accessibility, & Universal Design:
What do you know about Web 2.0?
"It is not only one person's work,
it's really a partnership and collaboration during all these years."
The CSU Digital Media and Learning Workgroup met for its third session and the discussion focused on universal design and accessibility for all users within the university community. In a handbook, titled Universal Design Handbook (Preiser & Ostroff, 2001), Laurie Ringaert provides some background information in her chapter "User/Expert Involvement in Universal Design:"
The universal design movement is committed to ensuring that all spaces, products, and communications meet the needs of people of all ages and various levels of ability and that design in general contributes to quality of life...It strives to achieve safety, comfort, and convenience for all citizens in the community. Part of the universal design paradigm is user involvement in the process. Traditionally, any users have been minimally involved in design projects. The designer for a client has carried out designs with little input from the prospective user groups. This deficit has included persons with disabilities and seniors, along with nontraditional users such as maintenance personnel. The Universal Design Institute, formerally the Canadian Institute for Barrier-Free Design (CIBFD), sought to rectify this situation by developing and delivering a universal design access consultant training program for user/experts, in this case, persons with disabilities, and by subsequently involving them in various projects. The institute's recognition of consumers with disabilities as user/experts arises from the independent living paradigm (Ringaert, 2001).
I found the background information above informative for a couple of reasons. One is because the universal design movement focuses on equity, a term we discussed in our conversation this evening. We talked about "digital equity" and how students of all learning and physical abilities have the right to be afforded access to online spaces. In particular, we talked about blind students and how many students struggle when assigned by instructors to interact within an online classroom.
The above passage from the Universal Design Handbook also intrigues me because it mentions how the users' involvement in the process is a part of the universal design paradigm. We collectively agreed that exploring Web 2.0 tools will help in better providing access to the entire community, including communities such as the blind or hearing impaired, that have often been marginalized in the digital sphere. I particularly like the idea of developing "a universal design access consultant training program for user/experts." It follows the philosophy of pairing a person with a passion with an expert tutor. (That kind of sounds like what the InnovationLab does.) I know this already is happening in many other contexts, but does any know effective Web 2.0 tools to use for enhancing accessibility within a university community and working to achieve digital equity?
We would love to hear your thoughts on this issue...
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I've read the transcript to the above blog entry aloud, which is provided in the YouTube video below: