Universal Usability Resources

Universal Usability and Universal Design

Access By Design, A Universal Design Approach to Web Usability
This book (available online, unabridged) by Sarah Horton offers guidelines for universal usability, along with examples and links to related articles and tutorials.

Equity and Excellence in Higher Education’s Universal Course Design
A free, self-paced introductory course with tutorials, resources, tools, and examples. This project, funded by the Department of Education, was carried out by the University of Massachusetts, Boston, in partnership with University of New Hampshire.

“Information and tools to enhance the design and delivery of instruction for diverse college students.” This site is the result of a Universal Design for Instruction project at the University of Connecticut, funded by the Department of Education.

Universal Design: Process, Principles, and Applications
This article by Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D., Director of University of Washington’s Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology (DO-IT), offers a high-level view of the process and principles of universal design. The article includes links to many resources from DO-IT on the subject of universal design.

The Web Style Guide
A practical guide, this book by Sarah Horton and Patrick Lynch (available online, unabridged) “…explains established design principles and covers all aspects of web design—from planning to production to maintenance.”

Accessible Web Design

Dive Into Accessibility
A 2002 website for people new to accessibility concepts with tips organized by type of disability, by design principle, and by person (using user profiles). The site addresses the questions, “Why should I make my web site more accessible?” and “How can I make my web site more accessible?”

Involving Users in Web Accessibility Evaluation
This article from the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) offers tips for the inclusion of people with disabilities in evaluation toward better understanding of accessibility issues and implementation of more effective accessibility solutions.

Just Ask: Integrating Accessibility Throughout Design
This book by Shawn Lawton Henry (available online, unabridged) offers details on accessibility in each phase of the user-centered design process (UCD). “Accessibility is designing products so that people with disabilities can use them. Accessibility makes user interfaces perceivable, operable, and understandable by people with a wide range of abilities, and people in a wide range of circumstances, environments, and conditions. Thus accessibility also benefits people without disabilities, and organizations that develop accessible products.”

10 Colour Contrast Checking Tools to Improve the Accessibility of Your Design
“If text does not have sufficient contrast compared to its background, people will have problems. People with colour blindness or other visual impairments as well as people browsing the Web under less than ideal circumstances (bad monitor, window reflections, sunlight hitting the screen) may not be able to read the text, at least not without difficulty.” This article includes an annotated list of a variety of color contrast checking tools. (Author Roger Johansson’s blog includes many accessible design-related articles.)

Web Accessibility in Mind
Articles on creation, evaluation, testing, tools, and laws related to accessibility including web, as well as media such as Flash, PDFs, and Microsoft Word and PowerPoint documents.

Design Pattern Guidelines

Designing Interfaces
This book (fully online) offers patterns for page organization, navigation, commands, data display, and forms. Each pattern includes a description, suggested use and manner of use, and examples.

Open Source Design Pattern Library
From the Fluid Project: “The Open Source Design Pattern Library is a place for communities to create, collaborate on, and share their open source user interface design patterns.” This library includes patterns for AJAX-type web interactions.

Web Patterns: A UC Berkeley Resource for Building User Interfaces
A project to build a library of web design patterns as a resource to the U.C. Berkeley community of web developers. Each pattern addresses a design problem, describes a solution and when to use it, and offers a rationale and examples.

Yahoo! Design Pattern Library
Yahoo! explains: “A pattern describes an optimal solution to a common problem within a specific context.” Each pattern has a problem, context, solution, accessibility implications, and examples. Each pattern also links to a blog article encouraging conversation about the pattern.