What is Universal Design? In a general sense “Universal Design is trying to make products & environments easily used by everyone. With this use of approach it will help people with handicaps, disabled and/or small children” (Expert). However, for our purposes we are strictly talking about the virtual world and according to the text Universal Design is “Designing for the largest audience possible, regardless of disability or ability to speak the native language” (Thatcher).
I started learning about Universal Design while taking a course in Web Accessibility and Usability I thought this totally makes since; a few key things I learned were the length of links, testing with experienced users, and fixing an existing site. According to Mark DuBois, web links should be more than four characters long because “people may not be able to click on a link smaller than four characters” (DuBois). The book by Jim Thatcher provides sound logic as to why you should use people with disabilities when testing your site. By including people with disabilities in the testing phase you can learn from them to improve your site to make it more accessible and more usable. Furthermore, the text explains how to fix an existing site; one of the key things I learned was prioritizing the repairs, by area or barrier. If there are a few areas on your site that are highly impactful you should fix those first. Then you can turn your attention to the guidelines put forth by the WCAG, using the WCAG 1.0 Checkpoints.
DuBois, Mark. CMWEB 150 – Topic 2. 13 August 2010. 19 August 2010 <http://www.screencast.com/users/MarkDuBois/folders/CMWEB150/media/c5100e6a-caaa-4670-8e7a-042a7819e36a>.
Expert, Rheada Answers. Ask Answers. 2010. 30 August 2010 <http://answers.ask.com/Society/Other/what_is_universal_design>.
Thatcher, Jim. Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance. New York: Friends of Ed, 2006.