Universal Design Podcast
Identifying individual needs can be difficult. Some school districts provide individualized education programs, but if a learner is not part of a special education program or the instruction is taking place outside of a school setting, the instructor must make every effort to determine the learner’s needs. Additionally there are laws in place to ensure that some level of universal design is present. Section 508 law requires covered on-line training to include elements of universal design such as real-time text captioning for audio and video. I personally believe that needs identification can create the most difficulties for a designer since there are a number of remedies available once the problem is recognized. Every day more solutions to universal design are being developed as more research on the subject is completed. Increasingly, there are a number of agencies equipped to offer recommendations, approaches and answers to instructors with universal design concerns.
One of the best strategies for universal design is to make sure that universality is part of the initial design. In Learning through Multimedia: Speech Recognition Enhancing Accessibility and Interaction, Mike Wald states “since there is no ‘average’ user it is important for technology to suit abilities, preferences, situations, and environments.” This can incorporate a number of processes, which include designing and building schools with better classroom acoustics, ensuring readability when creating on-line text, providing meaningful alt tags for on-line images and providing assistive technologies for students.