Call for Promising Practices: Integrating Universal Design into Curriculum (AccessComputing News - January 2015)

Terrill Thompson, AccessComputing Technology Accessibility Specialist

In the January 2014 issue of AccessComputing News, we reported on a variety of efforts to integrate universal design into curriculum, which was the theme of the 2013 Accessing Higher Ground conference (

One of our own contributions in this space has been WebD2, a web design and development course curriculum designed primarily for use in secondary schools. It is a full course curriculum in which students learn about the importance of web standards and accessible design. These concepts are taught as core design principles in the first unit, and then reinforced throughout the course as students learn new topics.

The curriculum is available for free at and currently has over 5000 registered teachers worldwide.

In 2014, we conducted a survey of teachers who are using the curriculum, and 147 teachers responded. Among other questions, teachers were asked to rate the following two statements on a five-point scale:

  • As a result of using the curriculum, I now have more knowledge about standards-based and accessible web design.
  • As a result of using the curriculum, most of my students now have more knowledge about standards-based and accessible web design.

The mean rating for each of these statements was 4.3. We’re excited to know that by teaching universal design within the course curriculum, we are not only influencing students, but also on teachers, who will continue to share their new perspective with countless other students in the future.

Many of the teachers who participated shared stories of their students who had gone on to pursue web design and development or other computing-related career paths after taking the course. There were stories of students who are now working as graphic artists or web developers, and others who are pursuing academic degrees in computer science and engineering. It’s exciting to hear these stories knowing that these students, who will be the architects of our future world, will be approaching their work with a foundation of knowledge that includes universal design and accessibility.

We are interested in learning about other efforts to integrate accessibility into curriculum. If you have engaged with activities in this area, please contact us at