Accessible Instructional Design: Volume 2

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(14 chapters)
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Design is a creative activity. However, when designers fail to properly understand the full array of human diversity, their work can include barriers that make it difficult or impossible for individuals with disabilities to access, engage, and benefit. This issue has huge implications on the context of the design of educational materials for 21st century learners. This chapter provides an introduction to the issues associated with accessible instructional design and provides an overview of the chapters selected for inclusion in this volume.


Several factors must align if web accessibility can be achieved and maintained. It is critical that web developers, designers, and content creators each know what to do. Moreover, it is vital that administrators create systems to support enterprise-wide web accessibility. The chapter will cover key issues found in education, predominantly higher education, and share resources to accomplish this complex endeavor.


This chapter discusses a bottom-up design strategy to support the principles of Universal Design and Universal Design for Learning adapted for online course development. The concept of Universal Design demands a holistic, bottom-up instructional design model for online course development that integrates technology, accessibility, recent instructional and learning theories, and a participatory postmodern worldview. This study is intended for faculty, instructional designers, administrators, assistive technology staff, and Web multimedia software vendors associated with higher education. The research assists these target audiences to design and develop online courses that are accessible without special adaptation or modification. The components of Universal Design for online learning support newer emergent approaches to instructional design, various programming solutions used in the software engineering field for efficiency, Universal Design for Learning, and legal guidelines associated with accessibility.


Barriers exist on large scale assessment when students are not able to perform at potential for a variety of reasons. Accommodations are mostly available for students who meet criteria for diagnosed disability or criteria for the identification of students who have English as a second language. However, knowing that students have diverse needs, accommodations for a few may not be providing appropriate access for all. Options for designing broader universal design for learning (UDL) on large scale assessment, through strategies that are typically restricted to special accommodations, increase access.


Accessibility design over the past several years has focused much of its attention on the development of a universal standard or a set of guidelines for delivering a diverse array of both content and instructional processes. Universal design for learning (UDL), for example, promotes providing multiple means of (a) representation, (b) action and expression, and (c) engagement for learners who have a wide range of disabilities as well as their typical peers. And while each instructional design element that represents a means of providing the differentiation required by the principle generally has a strong evidence-based support individually, it is difficult to assess any one of them within the larger ULD “multiple means” milieu of options. It is especially difficult to do this in regard to learners associated with any particular disability category. When it comes to targeted instruction, learner characteristics matter. It follows then that when it comes to developing an instructional design, that the learning characteristics of a targeted population be first and foremost considered as the point of departure in the design and development process. This chapter considers a wide range of instructional targets within the context of specific disability groups with a focus on learning goals, instructional design supports for those goals, and underlying cognitive processes that may help clarify the goals themselves as well as the instructional supports to achieve those goals.


In grades K-3, the primary focus of instruction is learning to read. In grades 4 and beyond, however, the focus shifts to reading to learn. Whereas teachers may use a variety of instructional approaches, research has clearly documented that learning from text is the primary instructional model found in most classrooms. This means that efforts to close the achievement gap must focus on ensuring that all students can access text-based learning materials, engage with the content in meaningful ways, and ultimately demonstrate success in the form of measurable gains in learning outcomes. Whereas the philosophy of UDL is relatively easy to understand, it has proven problematic to design, implement, evaluate, and scale. The purpose of this chapter is to describe a universal design engineering approach known as Design for More Types that can be applied to the design of text-based learning materials, this chapter will describe the conceptual and practical issues involved in the development of text-based learning materials for diverse learners. We begin by providing some foundational concepts for this multidisciplinary work. Next, we provide a series of case studies to illustrate how universal usability can be applied to various instructional designs. Finally, we describe how the Design for More Types framework can be used in both research and practice.


Pages 165-173
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Cover of Accessible Instructional Design
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Advances in Special Education Technology
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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