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Article: Guide to Public Accommodations and Accessibility

Accessible Design

Table of Contents
  1. Introduction to Public Accommodations and Accessibility
  2. Accessible Design
  3. Communications
  4. Social Barriers

Facilities Design
Media Design
Products Design
Universal Design
Validation Tools
Web Design

Accessible design involves making public places, including the internet, accessible to individuals whose physical, mental, or environmental conditions limit their performance.

Facilities Design

Accessible Facilities Design refers to designing public spaces (buildings and facilities that may house conferences or art exhibitions, cafeterias, etc.) so that they are easily accessible to individuals with disabilities. Guidelines for accessible design are driven by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.

US Access Board
This site contains various information related to ADA Standards and Guidelines.  It contains links to and comparison between Department of Justice's ADA Standards as well as the Access Board's ADA Accessibility Guidelines. 

ADA Standards for Accessible Designgn
This site contains the complete facilities design guidelines that are in accordance with ADA standards. These guidelines come in both html and PDF format.

Accessibility for the Disabled
Another design manual is available from the United Nations Enable website. The manual provides criteria for a barrier free environment and detailed information on urban design considerations and other architectural design provisions.

Disability Access Symbols
Twelve symbols exist to promote and publicize the accessibility of facilities and programs. The symbols are available for download on this site.

Guidelines to Accessible Meetings
These guidelines give some basic points to think about when planning meetings so that they can be welcoming to all people: including older adults, people with temporary injuries, and others with physical, sensory and mental disabilities.

Accessible Exhibition Design
On this site the Smithsonian museum provides guidelines for accessible exhibition design.

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Media Design

In creating media with text, audio, images, or multi-media, certain design principles can be used to make the presentation accessible for individuals with disabilities. For example, when creating a website or a PowerPoint presentation, color contrast can greatly affect an individual's ability to perceive the information.

Guidelines for Accessible Delivery of Text, Audio, Images, and Multimedia
This website provides guidelines for creating accessible formats and modes of media presentation for print, audiotape, Braille, diskette, CD-Rom/DVD, video, captions and internet.

National Center for Accessible Media
The National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) is a research and development facility that studies the issues surrounding accessible technology. The NCAM site provides resources related to media design and other technology accessibility design issues.

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Products Design

Accessibility is an issue in the design of electronics, computer applications, and other consumer products. In accessible product design, the following functional limitations are addressed: mobility and dexterity limitations, deafness and hearing loss, blindness and low vision, speech limitations, perceptual and cognitive limitations. Online resources are available to help manufacturers of consumer electronics to increase the usability of their products.

Creating Accessible Computer Applications
The American Foundation for the Blind has an article on their site that discusses strategies for the product development phase of computer applications for people with disabilities.

Guidelines for the Design of Consumer Products
Related to the design of accessible consumer products, is an article that identifies ways that standard manufactured consumer products can be made more accessible for individuals with disabilities.

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Universal Design

Accessible design means that products and buildings are accessible to individuals with disabilities. Universal design, however, means that products and buildings are accessible to everyone, including those people with disabilities.

There are seven principles that make up Universal Design guidelines:

  • The design is useful to people with diverse abilities.
  • The design is flexible in use and can accommodate a wide range of preferences and abilities.
  • The use of the design is intuitive and easy to understand.
  • The design communicates necessary information to the user regardless of the user's sensory abilities.
  • The design minimizes the chances for hazard or accident.
  • The design requires a low physical effort.
  • The design allows for appropriate size and space for approach, reach, and manipulation.

What is Universal Design?
This site provides a definition of Universal Design along with the principles that make up the concept. Also included on this site is a history of Universal Design.

Designing a More Usable World
This site discusses each principle of Universal Design.

Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology
This site is a part of the University of Washington Do-It program. It has a list of publications related to universal design.

The Concept of Universal Design
The Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access from the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Buffalo features this article on the concept of Universal Design.

Universal Design Education Online
Universal Design Education Online provides educators and students with resources related to Universal Design. The website provides information on teaching and learning about universal design.

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Validation Tools

The internet is home to many tools that can help to determine the accessibility of a website. If you are a website designer you may find these tools especially helpful in designing sites that are accessible to all people, regardless of ability, technology capabilities, and other possible limitations.

Validation Tools
This online lesson on validation tool teaches you techniques to manually inspect the accessibility of a web page.

Browser Compatibility Verification is a listing of services and resources related to website design. There are tools to determine the browser compatibility of a site. There is also information about designing an easy to use site and promoting your website.

CSS Validator
This validating tool evaluates level 2 cascading style sheets (CSS).

Evaluation, Repair, and Transformation Tools
This site has a listing of different evaluation tools for web accessibility.

WDG HTML Validator
The WDG HTML Validator can quickly validate multiple URL's along with HTML files on your computer.

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Web Design

Designing Accessible Websites
How People with Disabilities Use the Web

Web accessibility means that anyone is able to use a site regardless of their web browsing technology or their ability limitations (i.e., blindness, cognitive limitations, deafness, etc.) Some have even interpreted full web accessibility to mean that anyone, regardless of ability level, should be able to completely access information and interact with the site.

Introduction to Web Accessibility
This introduction to web accessibility discusses the problems and possible solutions to making the internet more accessible for everyone.

World Wide Access:  Accessible Web Design
You may wonder why it is so important to create websites that are accessible. For many individuals the internet provides access to information, tools and services that they wouldn't have otherwise. This website features an article on why websites should be accessible.

In this section, you will find resources on web design elements that can make a website more accessible. You will also find information on how people with disabilities use the web and what software and assistive technology is available to help them achieve greater independence in their daily living.

Designing Accessible Websites

It is much easier and cost efficient to include accessible features in the initial design of a website than it is to go back and re-design a website that is not accessible. An understanding of the barriers for people with disabilities is needed when designing an accessible website. The following are websites that provide a brief introduction to accessibility, along with a discussion related to the barriers faced by many people with disabilities.

Accessible Web Design
Accessible Web Design - A Definition, discusses what it means to have an accessible website and the barriers that prevent full accessibility.

Guide to Accessible Web Design
The Guide to Accessible Web Design includes an introduction on accessibility, an evaluation of online materials, and the tools that are available to overcome barriers.

Designing More Usable Websites
This site has information on accessible website guidelines, web access tools, and other resources on disability and web use.

Tips and Tricks to Improve Web Accessibility for the Visually Impaired
This article discusses specific information on how to design user-friendly websites for individuals who are blind or visually limited.

Six Principles of Accessible Web Design
The World Wide Web Consortium has a Web Accessibility Project called WAI. This project provides accessibility guidelines for those who build websites. This site contains information about these accessibility guidelines and how to implement them in web design.

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How People with Disabilities Use the Web

The internet is a way to foster independence for people with disabilities and connect them to the world. Through accessible web design and the use of assistive technologies, a person who is blind is able to read the daily news, a deaf student is able to participate in online classes and, an aging individual is able to do all of their shopping from home. The resources in this section explain how these people are able to use the web and how those who design websites can make their sites more usable for individuals with disabilities.

How People with Disabilities Use the Web
This article discusses how people with various disabilities access the web. It also describes different situations to consider when designing a website.

Major Barriers to Accessibility
There are a number of ways in which current technology and design practices can create barriers for users with disabilities. This site shows some barriers to access for people with disabilities.

Disabled Accessibility: The Pragmatic Approach
This site lists and discusses a prioritized list of accessibility design rules.

People with Disabilities Can't Access the Web!
This publication discusses the major problems with the web in terms of accessibility.

Last Updated on 1/22/2016