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Project by:
Joyce Arntson
Evie Einstein

A Journey into Special Populations & Web Accessibility


    This interactive white paper serves as a resource for new and replacement community college instructors in the business and computer science disciplines. 

    The Web links presented throughout this paper will expose you to the most pertinent and timely research and resources now emerging with respect to Special Populations and Web Accessibility. 

    The hope is that these links will be immediately helpful to you in your quest to design, develop, and deliver engaging and innovative instruction to your classroom, division, and college. 

    Learning Activities have been included.  You may choose to explore these yourself or have your students use them in the classroom. 

    What is Web Accessibility?

    Many people with disabilities will use special Web browsers, such as one which reads text out loud using a speech synthesizer for blind users. Bobby is a free service provided by CAST to help Web page authors identify and repair significant barriers to access by individuals with disabilities The suggestions made by Bobby will help authors to add information to a Web page that will help the special browsers work more effectively.

    Accessibility means not only allowing the Web to be used by people with disabilities, but also allowing Web pages to be understood by people using browsers other than the usual ones - including voice browsers that read Web pages aloud to people with sight impairments, Braille browsers that translate text into Braille, hand-held browsers with very little monitor space, teletext displays, and other unusual output devices.

    Learning Activity: Go to and check out some of the ``Bobby Approved Sites." 

    Two sites listed in that database are:

    United States Associates Blind Athletes  This Website is interesting because they provide a text-only version as well the graphical version of the Website. This Website showcases the designs of Franz Neumann.  (Do check out one of the sites Franz designed).  He works in Flash primarily, so it is interesting to see what can be done and still be sensitive to Web accessibility needs.

    Two great text-based sites are and  These sites were certainly path breakers.  It is nice to see that the ``old standards" have their place and can have longevity as well. 

    Print Resources

    Lynch, P., & Horton, S. (1999). Web style guide. New Haven: Yale University Press.

    Nielsen, J. (1999). Designing web usability: The practice of simplicity. New Riders Publishing. Indianapolis, IN: New Riders Publishing.

    Tufte, E. R. (1990) Envisioning information. Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press

    Learning Activity: Read Chapter 6, "Accessibility for Users With Disabilities," from Designing Web Usability by Jakob Nielson.

    Learning Activity:  Read Chapter 7, "International Use: Serving a Global Audience," from Designing Web Usability by Jakob Nielson.

    Learning Activity:  Read the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) at


    Standards in Web Accessibility

    Learning Activity: Spend some time at Macromedia which provides an invaluable array of information and resources regarding Web accessibility standards.

    A new usability area on the Macromedia Web site contains usability suggestions, accessibility information, examples, articles, and white papers to enable the more than 500,000 Macromedia Flash developers to deliver better user experiences. The usability area is centered on Macromedia's "Top 10 Usability Tips for Flash Web Sites," and is available at

    Macromedia's Mission Statement says it best:

    ``Macromedia supports the creation of great Web experiences for everyone. We encourage Web developers to produce rich, engaging content that is accessible by all. While much has been done to make the Web accessible, there is still more work ahead. Macromedia joins the rest of the technology industry dedicated to removing Web technology barriers for people with disabilities."

    Learning Activity: BlackBoard and WebCT both have Disclosure Statements that are well worth a read. At the bottom of BlackBoard's Home Page there is an ``Accessibility" link.  This document is at  At WebCT, in the upper right-hand corner, search for the word ``accessibility" and you will find their ``Accessibility Information and Resources" document. 




    Adaptive Technology Resource Center/University of Toronto
    A resource staff is available to assist in solving problems related to computers and adaptive technology. The ATRC provides information specific to the University of Toronto community - workshops, personal services, etc. ATRC also has an extensive listing of online resources devoted to assistive/adaptive technology.

    Aware Center
    HTML Writers' Guild
    AWARE stands for Accessible Web Authoring Resources and Education, and their mission is to serve as a central resource for web authors to learn about web accessibility. The Center is supported by the Guild's staff and volunteers and is designed as a resource for all web authors.

    COCA: Writing Accessible HTML Documents
    The Center for Information Technology Accommodation offers technical guidelines in designing and coding accessible HTML documents.


    Design of Accessible Web Pages
    The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research provides materials on principles of accessible design, along with some specific guidelines.

    Do-It Program
    Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology (DO-IT), promotes programs that use technology to maximize the independence, productivity and participation of people with disabilities. This Web site gives information on how to enroll in Do-It programs, and links to on-line resources


    EASI: Access to Information for Persons with Disabilities
    Equal Access to Software and Information
    Equal Access to Software and Information (Easi) offers online workshops in Adaptive Technology, Creating Accessible Web Pages, and Access to Science and Math; lists links to resources and products; and provides basic definitions of assistive technology and special education terms.

    IBM Accessibility (Special Needs)
    This Web site addresses the issue of accessibility by listing accessibility guidelines, checklists, and tools for developers and Web authors.

    Microsoft Accessibility and Disabilities Web Site
    This site provides accessibility information and tools.

    National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM)
    The National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) is a research and development facility that works to make media accessible to disabled persons, minority-language users, and people with low literacy skills. Their site lists latest projects and publications, as well as links to other accessibility information.

    Sun Microsystems' Enabling Technologies Program
    Sun Microsystems' Enabling Technologies Program Driven by the belief that designing to meet the needs of users with disabilities can improve the productivity of ALL users. The Web site links to IBM's accessibility guidelines and Java accessibility updates.

    TRACE Research and Development Center
    The Trace Center is an interdisciplinary research, development and resource center on technology and disability, based at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. The site offers comprehensive listing of and links to technology and disability information and organizations, related news highlights, and online catalog.

    TRACE: Design of HTML
    TRACE provides information and other links to building a more usable Web for all.

    W3C Disabilities Developments Page
    World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
    The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) addresses accessibility on many levels, in partnership with the many other organizations around the world which are committed to ensuring that this new technology is accessible to all. This WAI Reference List on Web Accessibility highlights the work of many organizations around the world in improving accessibility for people with disabilities. The web site provides internal information and links for design guidelines, tools and utilities.

    Web directory for disability-related internet resources.


    More Resources

    Articles on Accessibility and Building an accessible website

    Helpful links for accessible website design.

    Standards for electronic and information technology and

    Links to design tip pages

    Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)

    Software and hardware that allows access to the Web for Special Populations

    Microsoft resource guide for the visually impaired

    Reach Interface Author

    Site on web accessibility from the Australian Government

    Downloadable Accessible style sheet

    Access for literacy development mention of special browsers.

    Internet resources for Special Populations.

    Slide presentation with respect to Special Populations.

    Community groups and Special Populations task learning objectives.

    Resource list IT and teachers of Special Populations.

    Resource list for Special Education.

    Cost of Special Education.

    Web page accessibility for the blind and visually impaired.

    Physical accessibility rating system for hotels and other services.

    Physical accessibility to using a computer.

    Insights from Human Factors International, Inc. (HFI). Providing consulting and training in software ergonomics. (  Every month HFI reviews the most useful developments in UI research from major conferences and publications.


    Free Subscriptions

    E-Learning Magazine.
    On-Line Learning Magazine.


    Places To Go


    Business Education & CIS Grants Portal.
    TNT Website.
    BESAC Website.





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