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ADA Issues in Website Design and Online Learning Development
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Objective: To provide guidelines for making websites and online learning courses compliant with the mandates of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
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What is the ADA?
The Americans with Disablities Act guarantees the civil rights for people with disablities in all public and provate sectors, transportation, public accomodations, employment, education, housing, parks and recreation, services provided by the state and local governments, telecommunication relay services. The purpose of the ADA is to protect individuals from discrimination based on their disabilities.
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What does this mean for the design of websites and distance learning?
Websites and online classes should be designed in such a way that they are accessible for all individuals. This may include adding audio to convey the same information as the text and adding text or audio to convey the same information as an image. Many more consideratios are necessary to create an accessible website and discussed in the following information and links.
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DO...
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DON'T...
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Use relative font sizes so that when users can adjust the text size on their computer, the text of your website will become larger.
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Underline text that is not hyperlinked - anything underlined implies a hyperlink.

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  • Use contrasting background and text colors.
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  • Use flashing text or graphics.
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Use a solid background rather than patterned.
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Put too much information on one page.
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The most common form of color blindness is of the colors red and green - avoid using these colors as background and text.
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Use all caps (using all caps implies the author is yelling).
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Use alternative text or html formats so the user can access the page with all text; therefore, use alternate textual descriptions of images with the actual image (don't use an image alone).
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Use excessive italics.
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Tables that could be understood without the actual columns and rows. Use textual headings for the rows and columns.
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Use large "clickable" areas.
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Make the website easy to navigate with the keyboard as well as the mouse.
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Use consistent layouts throughout the website.
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Place all links so that the user does not have to scroll to access them.
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Use textual cues with all auditory cues.
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Websites that have been designed to test accessibility:
Bobby: http://bobby.watchfire.com/bobby/html/en/index.jsp
WAVE 3.0 Accessibility Tool http://www.wave.webaim.org/index.jsp

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References and Resources:
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research - Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services Principles and guidelines for accessible design. http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/nidrr/index.html?src=mr
Access Board Federal Guidelines http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/1194.22.htm
Sharon's ADA Guide http://www3.baylor.edu/~Sharon_P_Johnson/ada/written.htm
Royal National Institute of the Blind http://www.rnib.org.uk/xpedio/groups/public/documents/code/public_rnib003460.hcsp
Web Accessibility Initiative - Specifications and guidelines for creating an accessible website http://www.w3.org/
Building and Accessible Websites By Amy Cowen (7/20/99) http://builder.cnet.com/webbuilding/pages/Authoring/Accessibility/
EASI (Equal Access to Software and Information) Offers consulting to colleges, universities, and libraries on ways in which computer and information systems can be made accessible for faculty, students, and staff with disabilities. http://www.rit.edu/~easi/
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research - Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services Principles and guidelines for accessible design. http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/nidrr/index.html?src=mr
Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) http://www.cast.org/ Universal Design for Learning (UDL) http://www.cast.org/udl/
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