universal web design

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A survey of Web accessibility and usability

Background Research

The foundation of universal Web design is necessarily the current legal and technological environment. Many Web users and, more importantly, Web developers are not familiar with federal laws, web accessibility guidelines, and technological developments that constitute the governing force behind Web traffic. In essence, U.S. law has mandated that sources of information such as the World Wide Web must be made fully accessible to users with disabilities. To a designer who uses outdated, proprietary HTML editors -- usually out of habit or corporate reluctance to change -- it is nearly impossible not only to meet the government's guidelines but also to create impressive, functional, and universally user-friendly websites.

A large body of information ...
Thus, the purpose of this section is to provide summaries of relevant issues that form the immense informational backdrop for universal Web design. Click on the links below to read my own synopsis and discussion of each issue.

Legal Issues

Section 508: Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. In 1998, Congress amended the Act to require Federal agencies to make their information technology accessible by a specific deadline. (external)

Americans with Disabilities Act: This act was passed in 1990 requiring persons and businesses in commerce or serving the public to meet certain accomodation requirements. Effective in 1992, ADA prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities. Furthermore, it prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the services, programs, or activities of all State and local governments. (external)

Web Standards

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0: WCAG 1.0 are a W3C specification providing guidance on accessibility of Web sites for people with disabilities. They have been developed by the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative. The specification contains fourteen guidelines which are general principles of accessible design. Each guideline is associated with one or more checkpoints describing how to apply that guideline to particular features of Web pages.

Universal Design Principles: The principles of Universal Design proposed by the NCSU Center for Universal Design are generally applied to structural design, but they have clear and logical analogs in Website design and development.

Validate this page for CSS compliance  Validate this page for XHTML compliance  Validate this page for Section 504 compliance

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Legal Issues

Web Standards

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Project Vitals

Author: Greg Lanier
This site was originally created as a course project for Comp190 Enabling Technologies, given by Professor Gary Bishop at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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