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Going Beyond Basic ADA and S508 Compliance with Universal Design for Learning. Dr. Melissa Engleman Dr. Tara Jeffs East Carolina University Greenville, NC. Overview of Today’s Session. Why Worry About Those People? Those People are You and Me.

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Going Beyond Basic ADA and S508 Compliance with Universal Design for Learning

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Going Beyond Basic ADA and S508 Compliance with Universal Design for Learning

Dr. Melissa Engleman

Dr. Tara Jeffs

East Carolina University

Greenville, NC

Overview of Today’s Session

Why Worry About Those People?Those People are You and Me.

Most people will have a disability or experience a

limitation that will temporarily or permanently alter

their lives.

Many companies will no longer do business with

companies whose products are inaccessible to

people with disabilities. (IBM Report, 2005)

Why Worry About Those People?Those People are You and Me.

With our aging population, the "mature” customer is the fastest growing group.

Changes in vision & hearing, dexterity & memory are results of aging that create accessibility issues

Few organizations can afford to deliberately miss this market sector. (Access-IT)

Why Universal Design on the World Wide Web? Fiscal Considerations

  • 750 million people worldwide have disabilities, and they control about $175 billion

  • This number is increasing with the aging of the “baby boomers”.

  • Number of adults with a severe disability has increased by 70% since 1966.

  • 37 million Americans have disabling arthritis

(World Health Organization, 2005; Arthritis Foundation, 2005)

The Web is displacing traditional sources of information and interaction

  • The internet is used increasingly by individuals of all ages.

  • An accessible Web has the potentialfor unprecedented access to information and resources for people with disabilities. (Access-IT)

Why is Accessibility Important?

  • 1 out of every 5 Americans over the age of 5 have a disability (2000 Census)

  • Barriers to accessibility affect the 8.5% of the population that has at least one disability that would impact internet use:

  • Visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities

Why is Accessibility Important?

  • If accessible, the Web could offer unprecedented independence to people with disabilities.

  • Web accessibility has benefits for other users.

  • The Law: See first 3 pp. in notebook (from “Speak-out” website)

Legislation, Regulations and Standards

  • Section 508 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 2000: Electronic and information technology MUST be accessible to federal employees and and the members of the public with disabilities who use that service.

  • Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996requires “manufacturers of telecommunications equipment…to ensure that the equipment is designed, developed, and fabricated to be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, if readily achievable."

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended in 1998

  • Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments require:

    • Federally funded websites are accessible

    • Any organization receiving federal funding have an accessible website

    • Enforcement provisions of section 508 are effective as of June 21, 2001 .

The Americans with Disabilities Act (1990): ADA Regulation for Title III

  • Appendix A to Part 38 - Standards for Accessible Design established by the “access board”

  • prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in “places of public accommodation" (businesses and non-profit agencies that serve the public) and "commercial facilities” [websites are considered “places” & “facilities”]

    (See Gumson Vs. Southwest Airlines, 2004)

What the ADA Requires, According to the Office of Civil Rights

  • NOT enough for public entities to wait to respond to individual

    [accessibility] complaints. "

    p. 1, 1997

•Provision should be in a manner and medium appropriate to the significance of the message and the abilities of the individual.

•There must be a comprehensive policy in advance of any request for auxiliary aids or services. Inclusion of persons with disabilities is required in developing such policy.

Recent Litigation - 2004

  • 2004-present

    • Banking - Legally binding agreements New York State Settlements of 2004

    • Priceline.com, Ramada.com were required to pay costs of the investigation and redesign

    • Access Now, Inc. vs. Southwest Airlines

    • Target vs. NFB

The Toyota Case (2001)

Barnes and Noble and Claire's Stores (settled)

Wynne v. Tufts University School of Medicine (1992)

Tyler v. City of Manhattan (1994)

National Federation of the Blind vs. AOL (1999)

Gumson v. Southwest Airlines(2004)

Ninth Circuit in Wong v. Regents (2004)

Tennessee v. Lane (2004)

Rush v. National Board of Medical Examiners, (2003)

Stern v. University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Services (2000)

Litigation: Case Law

Must “effectively communicate” (Office of Civil Rights)

1. Timeliness

2. Accuracy

3. Appropriate Medium

Department of Justice, Disability Rights Division

“accessible features”

Equal degree of access

Key Language in the Laws

So, how do we do it?

Many resources exist for finding guidelines: Some simpler than others.

Legalese and “tech talk”

Piecemeal information - no condensed versions

Unknown needs

Compliance is Perceived as More Difficult than it Actually is

WCAG – Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

Recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

14 guidelines, over 60 checkpoints

Three priority levels

Section 508 Standards

Developed by the United States Access Board

Provides 16 measurable standards

All standards are required for compliance

Web Accessibility Standards

General Considerations

  • Consistent navigation on every page

  • Good color contrast

  • Can the user understand the page without color?

  • “Chunk” large amounts of information (content as well as links)

  • Use descriptive links

  • Use real-text rather than text imbedded in a graphic?

Other Considerations

  • Use alt tags for all non-text elements

  • Use header tags where appropriate

  • If tables are used, identify row and column headings

  • If frames are used, include descriptive labels

  • If videos are used on the site, use captioning, and for audio, a text transcript

Avoid flashing animations or flashes between 2 and 55 hertz (Prevent seizure triggers and distraction. Also they are generally annoying.)

Use relative rather than absolute unit (percentages vs. pixels) This ensures that content fits well no matter the scale.

In hypertext links, text should be specific to context, and “less is more”

General Recommendations

Accessibility is a Cross-Disability Issue

  • visual disabilities

  • hearing disabilities

  • physical disabilities

  • cognitive or neurological disabilities

Einstein’s Elevator…


(See p. 4 of notebook)

  • Substance vs. Style

  • Text Considerations

  • Alternative Representation

  • Routing

  • Standards

People who are Blind or Visually Impaired

  • Access Methods

    • Screen readers

    • Refreshable Braille Displays

    • Screen Enlarging Software

  • Issues

    • Reading Images.webaim.org/simulations/screenreader-sim.htm

    • Text layout does not make sense

    • Pixilation of text that is embedded in an image therefore can not be read

Color blindness


  • Using color alone to convey meaning

Another Example

Avoid use of color to convey essential information.

Color Contrast

This wouldn’t be legible.

This wouldn’t be legible.

Neither would this.

Hearing Impairment or Deafness

  • Captioning

    • Synchronized Captions for auditory content is most beneficial

Motor or Physical Impairments

  • Access Methods

    • Voice Recognition

    • HeadMouse

    • Head wand

    • Expanded keyboards

    • Switch Access

  • Issues

    • Keyboard access

    • Timed Response

    • Target Areas

Cognitive Impairments


  • Text only pages

  • Animated GIFS

  • Tob eornot t obe

    Benefit from illustrations and graphics, as well as from properly-organized content with headings, lists, and visual cues in the navigation.

Image Dependency: A Problem

for Low-Vision

What’s wrong with these?


1. This page is designed with exact font sizes set. Then each element on the page (paragraph, image, etc.) is placed at exact x/y coordinates that depend on that font size.

2. When the text is zoomed, the carefully placed elements do not change their positions accordingly, so they now overlap. The content is more unreadable than it was before.


From Homestead.com

Traditionally, what we have done in education is to accommodate individual needs without changing courses.

For examples, we have told deaf students to arrange for sign language interpreters; blind students to secure a Brailled or tape –recorded version of printed materials.

(Bowie, 1999)

What is Universal Design?

“the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.”

Ron Mace

(NC State, 1997)

On the Web, Universal Design Benefits All Users.

  • Captioning and alternate text make indexing easier and more efficient for search engines

  • More consistent user interfaces make surfing easier for anyone

On the Web, Universal Design Benefits All Users.

  • Also, young children, nonreaders and people who are elderly

  • “Backward" access: slow connection speeds or older equipment and software

  • Reduces fatigue for all users

Impact on Universities

E-Learning requires accessible web access and accessible learning materials

University Legal Requirements

  • Obligated to provide accessibility unless doing so would “fundamentally alter” the content (not the method)

  • Must not impose an “undue burden”

  • Choice of inaccessible software that must later be fixed is not an “undue burden”

  • Academic freedom is about ideas, not accessibility requirements

University Legal Requirements

  • Whether a university is obligated under S508 standards is individual, depending on their policy statements.

  • They are obligated under S504, ADA and the Telecommunications Act.

  • For a comprehensive list of links to laws and discussion of these issues:

  • http://www.washington.edu/accessit/webpslegal.html

University Legal Requirements

  • If the university has a policy statement concerning what students must be able to access before they can take an online course, it may get them off the hook - for now.

  • On request, the university must provide needed assistive technology, but not necessarily that of the student’s choice.

So, how are we doing so far?

Schmetzke, 2001

Schmetzke, (2001) found that 81% of distance education “home pages” had major accessibility errors.

The most commonly found problem was failure to provide alternate text.

(Picture of a man, lost in a maze)

Schmetzke, 2001

  • General academic units/programs 25-28%

  • Special education programs 27%

  • Colleges of Communication & Schools of Journalism 21%

  • Schools of Library and Information Science: 23%

  • Online databases were also found to have numerous accessibility errors.

In a related study, this researcher

found major accessibility errors across higher education internet sites, as follows:

Blaser’s Findings at For-Profit Online Universities

-confused responses

-referrals to “special” offices

Response from the “accessibility experts” at one for-profit online university:

”Please specify the kind of accessibility you would need and what a screen reader is."



Through the Looking-Glass…

  • ECU’s subcommittee report on S508b compliance

A Few “One Size Fits All” Accommodations Are Typically Offered, Regardless of Individual Needs.

Typically provided

accommodations for students with learning disabilities:

Scribe or reader


Extra time

Solitary space for testing

They don’t actually fit all.

Other Commonly Offered Accommodations (NCES Study):

More Than One Barrier to Access

People with disabilities do NOT tend to have the higher income, education, and employment that are usual accompaniments to computer use.

For online education, one needs more than just a computer. That computer must be hooked up to the Internet, at a reasonable "speed" -- and one must stay on the computer for hours at a time.

Another barrier is availability of high speed services

Accommodations can’t be “one size fits all”

But…they can be “many sizes fit all”

Are Course Management System Tools Accessible?

According to their explanations on the Bb 6.0 website, this course management system does adhere to S508 rules,

However, there are still places in this CMS that are limited in accessibility options. Persons with disabilities are referred to another site, and instructors are given instruction about how to vary assignments, as necessary.

Alternative! Find options that provide flexibility in taking advantage of each student’s strengths.

Courseware provides a consistent format

Most products now have text and meaningful titles, alternate text, and so on.

Many products have accessibility limits with optional parts such as virtual chat and assessment tools

The Good news and the Bad News about Course Management Systems

The Bottom Line…

No student is disconnected from

any part of the course due to his

or her functional impairment.

Schenker, K. & Scadden, L., 2002

Pathways to Assure Student-Course ConnectionSee notebook section “Online Design”

  • 1. Consumer evaluation should be conducted at formative stages of development

  • 2. Captions of audio, or audio of visual content are provided.

  • 3. Universal Design approach - takes into consideration all needs of potential users before development.

  • Source: http://www.washington.edu/accessit/articles?203

  • (Access IT, Fact Sheet 211)

Pathways to Assure Student-Course Connection

  • 4. Steps to planning accessible video production: consult individuals with disabilities regarding content, format, and presentation.

  • 5. During scripting, be sure most important content is given.

  • 6. Consider captions in large font and in upper and lower-case letters, or low vision.

  • Source: http://www.washington.edu/accessit/articles?203

  • (Access IT, Fact Sheet 211)

About 10-15% of the Total Student Population on Any Given Campus Acknowledge a Disability

Lissner, (1995)

Student Needs Inside and Outside Courses: Bb Survey Results (2001)

In a Nationally Representative Sample of 21,000 Undergraduates:

(NPSAS, 2000)

About 30% of Students with Disabilities Report Learning Disabilities

All other disabilities combined

Learning Disabilities

Total students of students who disclose a disability

  • (Horn, Berktold, & Bobbitt,1999; Lewis & Farris, 1999; NCES, 2005)

The group of students with learning disabilities continues to be the fastest growing group of persons with disabilities in colleges

Question: If students with Learning Disabilities are the most prevalent in our universities and the most rapidly increasing group, why is most accessibility focus for the WWW on physical and sensory accessibility, with little attention to learning needs?

Learning Styles…

Do your students ask profound questions such as

“How long should the paper be?”


“Why do I have to take this class?”

Are you bewildered and frustrated with your students because they seem hopelessly under prepared?


Learning Styles Inventory

  • Activity!

What’s Your Learning Style?(See section in notebook)

  • Yellow

    • A. visual B. verbal

  • Blue

    • A. sequential B. global

  • Green

    • A. active B. reflective

  • Pink

    • A. sensory B. intuitive


Understanding the Learner

  • Past 15 years studied new students.

  • 4000 students administered Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test

  • By understanding how students learn can help us meet the needs of new students that sit in our classrooms

  • Sensing Learners

  • They have difficulty with complex concepts and low tolerance for ambiguity. Less independent in thought and judgment and more dependent on ideas of those of authority

  • Also more dependent on immediate gratification and exhibit more difficulty with basic academics such as reading and writing

Sensing vs. Intuition”

60% “sensing” learning style prefers direct, concrete experiences; moderate to high degrees of structure, linear sequential learning, and often need to know why before doing something.

In general, students who prefer sensing learning patterns prefer the concrete, the practical, and the immediate.

Many Paths to Learning

Schroeder suggests that this research indicates that “there are many paths to excellence and perhaps the greatest contributions we can make to student learning is recognizing and affirming paths that are different from our own”.

Personality Preferences Activity

What’s Your Sign?

  • Yellow

    • A. extrovert (E)B. introvert (I)

  • Blue

    • A. sensing (S)B. intuitive (N)

  • Green

    • A. thinking (T)B. feeling (F)

  • Orange

    • A. judging (J)B. perceiving (P)

The Online Course Design Study at ECU:

  • College of Education Graduate MAEd Students

  • 282 responses over 3 years

  • Sampled from SPED 6002 Addressing Differences in Human Learning in Schools

How did the students compare in their personality preferences?

  • They were very different from faculty!

  • They differed in many different ways.

Faculty Types: Mostly INFJs and ENFJs

Students: Mostly ISFJs and ESFJs

Faculty: Mostly NFPs &NFJs

Students: Mostly SFJs - some NFJs

Faculty Types: Mostly NFs, with some NTs

Students: Mostly SJ s, with some NFs

More Type Comparisons

  • Students were primarily:

  • Sensory (S)

  • Judging (J)

  • Faculty were primarily:

  • Intuitive (N)

  • Feeling (F)

  • Sensing-Judging (SJ): May be called traditionalist, stabilizer, or consolidator. They value caution, carefulness, and accuracy

    • Like clear, sequential steps, see “the trees”, teacher-pleasing, like things to be right

  • Intuitive-Feeling (NF): A spokesperson and energizer, they value harmony and self-determination.

    • Likes the big picture (what box?), see “the forest”, searching for meaning, like things to be intriguing and fulfilling

These preferences imply very different styles for teaching and learning online - or face-to-face - but online learning can either be rigid or flexible, according to instructor design...

What About Learning Styles?First, the students...

Learning Styles: Only One in Common

  • Students Preferred...

  • Active

  • Sensory

  • Visual

  • Sequential

  • Faculty Preferred...

  • Reflective

  • Intuitive

  • Visual

  • Global


  • One-size does NOT fit all

  • Instructors who primarily design online courses the way they like learning will fail to use the best strategies for most of their audience

  • This is why we drive each other crazy!

  • and most importantly....

Providing simultaneous options for how to access learning will provide the best experience for everyone.(See notebook section “Faculty Information and UDL” for evaluations of common teaching methods)

Universal Design for Learning

  • 1990’s challenged us to think about who should be responsible for accessibility.

    • The Intersection of educational initiatives. For example, integrated units, multi-sensory teaching, multiple intelligences, differentiated instruction, use of computers in schools, and performance-based assessment to name a few.

  • The task for educators is to understand how students learn and use the technology available in this digital age to provide selected supports where they are needed and position the challenge appropriately for each learner.

Learning Networks

Learning is distributed across three interconnected networks:

  • the recognition networks ……what

  • the strategic networks …….how

  • the affective networks ……..why

Recognition Network

Exercise your recognition networks' processing by quickly listing the individual objects you recognize in this picture

Strategic Network

Exercise your strategic networks by examining this image for a few different purposes. Notice how you look at the image differently depending on your purpose.

  • How old are the people in this picture?

  • What time historical time period or geographical location might it represent?

  • How might the people be feeling in this picture?

Affective Network

Exercise your affective networks' processing by looking at the picture once again .

What strikes you about the picture?

Note something about your self that may have led you to this conclusion.

Comparison of UD and UDL: Benefits and Pitfalls

Comparison of 3 Designs: “typical”, using UD and using UDL

Universal Design Framework

  • Universal Design for Learning calls for ...

  • Multiple means of representation, to give learners various ways of acquiring information and knowledge,

  • Multiple means of expression, to provide learners alternatives for demonstrating what they know,

  • Multiple means of engagement, to tap into learners' interests, offer appropriate challenges, and increase motivation.

Multiple means of representation

  • Present information in multiple ways. Anything written or otherwise offered visually is also spoken aloud or vice versa.

Multiple means of expression

  • Offer multiple ways for students to interact with and respond to curricula and materials. (Talking, writing, typing, videoing, etc)

Multiple means of engagement,

  • Provide multiple ways for students to find meaning in the material and thus motivate themselves. Students may work independently, or in teams. They may show that they master principles by applying their favorite activities.

Universal Design for Learning

  • Various means of

    • Representation

    • Engagement

    • Expression

      • addresses individual learning needs and preferences by designing for all potential users

By designing learning experiences for many possible learners with

various characteristics, ALL learners benefit

  • Example:

  • The spelling test.

Universal Design for Learning: Applications to Online Courses

  • Okay, UDL is a good idea. How do we do it?

Multiple Means of Representation: Example

  • View the video clip of Martin Luther King giving the “I Have a Dream” speech.

  • Read Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

  • Listen to audio clip of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

  • Find and read at least 5 pertinent pieces of historical literature on Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech

  • Read the Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to a partner.

  • Listen to a partner reading Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

  • Watch a documentary on Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

  • Find at least 5 pertinent pieces of critical literature on Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

University Examples


For more information, contact:Dr. Melissa Engleman or Dr. Tara JeffsSpecial EducationEast Carolina UniversityGreenville, NC 27858-4353englemanm@ecu.edu or jeffst@ecu.edu

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