How Online Educational Content Benefits from Universal Design
By adopting the universal design principles in creating websites and course materials for our online teaching environments, we improve the academic experience of all of our students including students with disabilities; this makes the learning environment and instructional materials more accessible and usable.
By following the universal design principles for creating course materials we ensure that our content is accessible for a wide range of students with different abilities and learning styles. For example, this will allow any student to learn at their own comfortable pace and time.
Universal design principles will also make our content compatible with a wider range of technologies and allow everyone to view and interact with the content in the most comfortable environment. For example, students can use low or high resolution monitors, PDAs, cell phones, text browsers, refreshable Braille displays, and screen reader programs to view and interact with the content.
Additionally, by providing alternative text for charts and informational graphics, all students including blind students will learn about the message of the chart or graphic. By providing transcript and/or caption for an audio/video clip, you not only make your audio/video clips accessible to deaf students and those with language barriers, but you also make your audio/video clip searchable.
The point is that regardless how students access the information and what their abilities are, they have full access to the content and can interact with it. For an interesting viewpoint on this topic, check out this video produced by the University of Washington, DO-IT program. http://www.washington.edu/doit/Video/www.html