Accessible Design Guide


In this current era, to be a media creator in any capacity requires a working knowledge of design for accessibility. It is simply the right thing to do... and it's the law. We can accomplish this by referring to the guidelines in this website prior to creating our media until it becomes automatic in our design processes.

For The EPIC Project

This guide should be utilized to design all public-facing media that is affiliated with the EPIC project.


The KCAD DAD program has committed to accessible design with the intent to become experts in everything we produce over the next several years. The plan moving forward is two-phased:

  1. All media used for student instruction should attempt to follow these guidelines beginning Fall 2018 and progressively improve over the next several years
  2. Full time faculty will work with adjuncts to develop a schedule for integrating the guidelines into course outcomes for students. This will be rolled out over the course of the next several years.

Guide to Disabilities

[ From the World Health Organization ]

"Disability is thus not just a health problem. It is a complex phenomenon, reflecting the interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives. Overcoming the difficulties faced by people with disabilities requires interventions to remove environmental and social barriers."

"The social barriers mentioned in the WHO statement above are often forgotten when we think about accessible design. Certainly we can create a separate, but equal, experience for persons with disabilities. But this denies them what we all need, what we all deserve; which is to be an equal participant in society. We must use a Universal Design philosophy that provides the opportunity for the abled and disabled to experience our media together, at the same time, in the same place, on the same channel"... Bill Fischer.

Visual Disabilities

Many individuals who are blind interact with computers using screen-reader software. Individuals who are blind cannot browse content the way sighted individuals do (by visually scanning and finding the relevant information). For them, content is experienced linearly, by tabbing through categories of information, such as, menus, links and headings.

Individuals who have low-vision, who are colorblind or who have photosensitivity issues also can be affected by inaccessible content. The use of colorblind-friendly colors, high contrast, audio, and logical, consistent layout will provide meaningful experiences for the sight impaired.

Technology Accessibility

The smart phone is often a person's only available access to digital media. Over 50% of web page views worldwide occur on mobile devices. Websites, documents and digital media in general, must be compatible with smart phones and slow 3g connections to be fully accessible. Situations where mobile devices are the only option include:

  • Low income people whose only digital device is a smart phone.
  • People that are traveling short and long distances.
  • People that are in situations where a laptop or desktop computer is not an option (like an impromptu meeting or public venue).

An article in Education Week magazine called "The Digital Divide and Educational Equity" outlined access for students.

September 25, 2018

The lack of access to technology and internet connectivity at home is especially severe among poor, rural, and minority students, according to a new survey from ACT's nonprofit Center for Equity in Learning.

Based on a random sample of 7,000 students who took the ACT in 2017, the survey finds 14 percent of students have access to only one device at home, and 85 percent of those students are classified as "underserved"—defined in the report as economically disadvantaged, first-generation college students or people of color. By contrast, only 5 percent of students whose families make at least $100,000 a year and 7 percent of those whose parents have college degrees reported having a single device.

The report also finds more than half of students with only one device at home said it was a smartphone.

By Lauraine Genota

Vol. 38, Issue 06, Page 4

Published in Print: September 26, 2018, as Education Technology and on the web

Mobility Disabilities

Keyboard access is the most important concept when thinking about the accessibility of content for individuals with mobility disabilities. Some people do not have use of, or do not have arms, hands or fingers. Additionally, many other individuals have limited control of their arms, others have diminishing fine motor controls. All of these individuals might have difficulty using a mouse, many only use the keyboard to navigate. Others use items such as trackballs, adaptive keyboards, headwands, mouthsticks, and speech recognition software.

Hearing Disabilities

Hearing disabilities include a range of hearing impairments beyond those that cannot hear at all. Providing captions and transcripts provide a lifeline to content for these individuals.

Cognitive Disabilities

For individuals with cognitive disabilities such as learning disabilities, distractibility, comprehension challenges, and dyslexia, disorganized content is the most important barrier to accessibility and their ability to interact with media. These individuals benefit from well structured, semantically organized media that provide multiple means of access that can include, text, illustrations, diagrams, video or audio.

Speech Disabilities

Some people have a difficult time speaking or cannot speak at all. This is an especially important population to consider as technology begins to move more towards spoken controls for interactive devices (such as Google Home and Amazon's Echo).

Temporary Disabilities

An often overlooked area of accessibility are the needs of individuals who are temporarily unable to access media in certain ways. This can include situations like these:

  • Where audio would disturb those around us (such as on a bus or in a waiting room).
  • When we are caring for a child and cannot be focused consistently on a screen.
  • Perhaps we are just having a difficult time concentrating when we are tired.
  • Brightly lit rooms with dim computer displays or projections can make screens difficult to see.