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College of Applied Health Sciences Launches Digital Accessibility Professional Certificate

by Karen Bollinger | 09/23/2015
Information Accessibility Design and Policy (IADP) certificate program will provide training on creating content and utilizing assistive technologies that facilitate equal access to information.

The University Of Illinois College Of Applied Health Sciences has developed a fully online professional development certificate in information accessibility design and policy. From hands-on developers to compliance officers, anyone responsible for making web content findable, useable and accessible for persons with disabilities can learn how to meet accessibility standards and exceed user expectations.

Focusing on universal design techniques and federal and state mandates among many other topics, the IADP certificate program includes three online, consecutive 8-week courses that cover:

  • Principles of accessible information architecture and universal design information technologies used in educational, healthcare, and employment settings.
  • Federal and state legal requirements for providing equal access to information technologies to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities.
  • Information technology accessibility standards, design techniques that enable adherence to those standards, and tools that support validation and evidence of compliance to those standards. 

“‘Accessible Thinking’ must become part of ‘Design Thinking’ for online technologies to be truly accessible and usable by people with disabilities,” said Dr. Jon Gunderson, Coordinator of Assistive Communication and Information Technology Accessibility in the Division of Disability Resources and Education Services (DRES) at the University of Illinois. “Managers, UX  Designers, web developers, quality assurance engineers,  information specialists, disability service providers, all have a role to play in making online technologies accessible. The first step in the process of learning about ‘Accessible Thinking’ is understanding the experience of disability in using online technologies. The second step is understanding that current web technologies can be used to make highly accessible usable online resources.” 

“As the ADA recognizes the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, there is an increasing demand for accessible websites and a heightened awareness about meeting basic accessibility standards,” said Dr. Reginald Alston, leading scholar in rehabilitation and disability services and University of Illinois professor. “Accessibility is important to a wide variety of users with varying degrees of disability. We need more IT and communication professionals trained to minimize barriers and maximize access to digital information. ” 

For more information about the IADP certificate program:


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Pioneering Accessibility at the University of Illinois

The University of Illinois has a history of pioneering efforts to improve access. From ramps and curb cuts in the 1940s to remote-controlled elevators today, the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois has been at the forefront of the fight to give people with disabilities equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from the programs, services, and activities of educational, healthcare, and employment settings. As a result of the vision, passion and perseverance of Dr. Timothy Nugent, accessibility pioneer and University of Illinois professor, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign became the first post-secondary institution to offer a program of support services to students with disabilities, the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES), the service unit of the College of Applied Health Sciences.

Under Dr. Nugent’s leadership, the University achieved a number of significant “firsts” in serving people with disabilities:

  • The first curb cuts at a post-secondary institution
  • The first fixed-route buses with wheelchair lifts
  • The first college-level adapted sports and recreation program
  • The first study abroad program for students with disabilities
  • The first and still the only residential program to serve students with severe disabilities who require assistance in performing daily living tasks