OVAE: Office of Vocational and Adult Education
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Accessibility and Universal Design

Research and Evaluation | Noteworthy Practices | Additional Links

According to the Center for Universal Design: The intent of universal design (UD)is to simplify life for everyone by making products, communications, and the built environment more usable by as many people as possible at little or no extra cost. Universal design benefits people of all ages and abilities. (1997 NC State University)

Some Key Principles of Universal Design include:

  • Equitable Use: The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities;
  • Flexibility in Use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities;
  • Simple and Intuitive: Use of the design is easy to understand regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or concentration level;
  • Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of the user's sensory abilities; and
  • Low Physical Effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.

Research and Evaluation

Noteworthy Practices

  • Education Programs with Universal Design. From Universal Design Education Online, teachers have submitted information about using universal design in the classroom.

  • North Carolina State University's School of Design. In partnership with the Center for Universal Design, the School of Design has implemented several strategies to promote universal design in undergraduate education.

  • Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut educates and supports faculty in acquiring the knowledge and skills they need to fully include adolescents and adults with disabilities in education.

  • Universal Design Education Online supports educators and students in their teaching and study of universal design.

  • Universal Design of Instruction describes how the principles of universal design can be used in instruction to include individuals with "wide differences in their abilities.

Additional Links

  • ABLEDATA provides information on assistive technology and rehabilitation equipment available from domestic and international sources to consumers, organizations, professionals, and caregivers within the United States.

  • Alliance for Technology Access. Network of community-based centers providing information and services to children and adults with disabilities that will increase their use of standard, assistive, and information technologies.

  • Bobby. A comprehensive Internet accessibility software designed to help expose and repair barriers to accessibility and encourage compliance with existing guidelines.

  • The Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST). An organization that uses technology to expand opportunities for all people, especially those with disabilities. The site includes resources, examples, and information about professional development opportunities.

  • National Center for Accessible Media. Association dedicated to ensuring equal access to media for people with disabilities, with numerous projects on access to educational media in particular.

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Last Modified: 08/14/2008