Understanding Accessibility

What is Inclusive Design?

Inclusive design of technology means developing systems flexible enough to serve the broadest possible range of users. Inclusive design calls for adaptable interfaces to be built into the product early in the design phase, producing systems more easily used by everyone.

Principles for Inclusive Design

Allow for customization based on user preference.
Provide equivalent access to auditory and visual content based on user preference.
Provide compatibility with assistive technologies and include complete keyboard access.
Provide context and orientation information.
Follow relevant specifications, standards, and/or guidelines.
Consider the use of XML.

Benefits of Inclusive Design

Inclusively designed products are accessible to most users with disabilities and more usable for everyone. Beyond being “the right thing to do,” inclusive design actual improves products. Flexibility in input and output methods supports changing environments, such as watching video with captions in a quiet library or switching from a mouse to a keyboard (or vice versa) to relieve repetitive strain injury. The information needed by blind users is similar to the way the web is displayed on devices like PDAs and cell phones. An inclusively designed NSDL will reach more users and provide the most flexibility of use.

Why Accessibility Matters

People with disabilities benefit enormously from access to on-line learning resources. Well designed, accessible materials can be crucial for learners who can’t use traditional print because of visual impairments or physical disabilities.

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