Tips and Tools for Universal Design

Concurrent Session 4
Streamed Session Best in Strand

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This workshop will illustrate Section 508 requirements and present the audience with examples of accessible and inaccessible designs so as to illustrate the requirements detailedly. The workshop then will introduce useful tools for checking the accessibility of online materials and demonstrate how to use the tools


Open Education Resource Instructional Designer with USG eCampus, and Instructor of Sociology with the University of West Georgia.

Extended Abstract

Purpose of the Workshop
        Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, Amendments to Americans with Disabilities Act, and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 provide specific instructions for universal design when creating online content. However, many instructional designers and faculty members have not mastered the technical skills of making accessible course content, or checking the accessibility of existing materials. This workshop introduces tips and tools for universal design and provides participants with hands-on activities to practice the skills.

Intended Audience
        The intended audiences of this workshop are faculty and educators who often create or distribute documents, educational materials or web pages, but have not mastered universal design principles and skills. The target audience also includes faculty who would like to revisit these topics and practice additional skills. The types of educators targeted for this workshop include instructional designers, instructors teaching in colleges, and other professionals who maintain and publish content on websites, or create online course content.

 Learning Outcomes
        After attending this workshop, the audience will be able to:

  • Explain principles of UD;
  • Assess examples of content design for UD principles;
  • Use UD principles to create accessible documents and webpages;
  •  List useful tools for checking accessibility of Word files (.doc or .docx), PDFs, and webpages;
  • Revise and improve the quality of course content using UD.

        This workshop is designed with a hybrid delivery method, blending elements of Sit-N-Git workshops with Hands-On Technology workshops. Attendees will be asked to use computing devices or smartphones to participate in the workshop activities. In order to achieve the instructional goals, this workshop will begin with an introduction to universal design, and an explanation of common universal design elements and principles. Tools that can be used to assess accessibility will also be introduced during the introductory portion of the workshop. Following the introductory portion, audiences will be engaged in hands-on tasks, including interactive games to assess the accessibility of sample content, using accessibility checkers to assess content, and creating basic materials using UD principles.

        The detailed agenda of this workshop is planned as below:

  • 10 Minutes:  Introduction to UD
  • 2 minutes: Present examples of inaccessible designs
  • 5 minutes: Activity—Participants identify the problems in the examples through interactive gaming
  • 5 minutes: Present tools to assess accessibility, and demonstrate how to use them
  • 10 minutes: Activity—learners create rudimentary documents, and then check them with the tools
  • 10 minutes  Q&A—troubleshooting the practice session; other common questions from audience answered.

Materials Provided 
        Each participant will receive a hard copy of infographic with ten tips for universal design and a handout of guidelines. Participants will not be provided technology for use, and will be asked to use their own computing devices (including smartphones) to fully participate in this workshop. If for some reason participants are unable to use their own technology, this workshop will still function well for those individuals as a Sit-N-Git session.
References: (2016). HHS Section 508 Accessibility checklists. Retrieved from

Rao, K., Edelen-Smith, P., & Wailehua, C. (2015). Universal Design for Online Courses: applying principles to pedagogy. Open Learning, 30(1), 35-52.

Rodesiler, C. A., & McGuire, J. M. (2015). Ideas in Practice: Professional Development to Promote Universal Design for Instruction. Journal Of Developmental Education, 38(2), 24-31. (n.d.). Quick Reference Guide to Section 508 Requirements and Standards. Retrieved from 

Shigaki, C. L., Anderson, K. M., Howald, C. L., Henson, L., & Gregg, B. E. (2012). Disability on Campus: A perspective from faculty and staff. Work, 42(4), 559-571.

Smittle, P. (2003). Principles for Effective Teaching in Developmental Education. Journal of Developmental Education, 26(3), 10-12,14,16.

United States Department of Justice. (2010). 2010 Standards for Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities Title III. Retrieved from 

W3C Web Accessibility Initiative. (2017). Accessibility Principles. Retrieved from

Zachry, E. M. (2008). Promising Instructional Reforms in Developmental Education: A case study of three Achieving the Dream colleges. New York: MDRC. Retrieved from ising_instructional_reform s_fr.pdf.