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Information Resources Management Association
Advancing the Concepts & Practices of Information Resources Management in Modern Organizations

Increasing Web Accessibility and Usability in Higher Education

Increasing Web Accessibility and Usability in Higher Education
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Author(s): Barbara A. Frey (University of Pittsburgh, USA), Ashli Molinero (University of Pittsburgh, USA) and Ellen Cohn (University of Pittsburgh, USA)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 7
Source title: Encyclopedia of Distance Learning, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Patricia L. Rogers (Bemidji State University, USA), Gary A. Berg (California State University Channel Islands (Retired), USA), Judith V. Boettcher (Designing for Learning, USA), Caroline Howard (HC Consulting, USA), Lorraine Justice (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong) and Karen D. Schenk (K. D. Schenk and Associates Consulting, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch165


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Just as wheelchair ramps and elevators provide access to wheelchair users, good Web design provides “electronic curb ramps” to the Internet for individuals with visual or other disabilities (Waddell, 1997). Research shows it is easier and less expensive to initially construct accessible Web pages rather than to retrofit the pages with corrections. Most of the technical requirements for accessible Web design can be met if Web designers adhere to the straightforward principles suggested by the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Accessibility Initiative. Accessible Web site design benefits all users, not just persons with disabilities. This is because users with slow Internet connections, users who access the Internet via personal Web devices and users who are speakers of foreign languages may also experience accessibility challenges (Rose & Meyer, 1996). In short, accessible Web sites increase usability. Accessibility, a component of usability, suggests “information systems flexible enough to accommodate the needs of the broadest range of users … regardless of age or disability” (Waddell, 1997). Usability is achieved by designing with the end user in mind, to ensure that a user has access to any Web site, no matter when or how the access is sought (Pearrow, 2000).

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