Sunday, April 27, 2008

Module 3 reflection

Module 3 was on Design and Development phase of the ID process. The design and development phase of instructional designing continues from the foundation laid out in the analysis phase and considers instructional strategies to be used for sequencing and scoping the content, selection of media and assessment of learning outcomes. According to the University of Alberta (2004) website on instructional designing, “the design and development phase is a more creative and challenging stage” as instructional designers are tasked to “imagine and create ways for learners to learn the material and to be motivated while doing it and be able to use the learning in meaningful ways afterwards.”

A very interesting concept which I have always used but never knew about the theories behind it was Reigeluth’s Elaboration theory – from simple to complex sequence. Another interesting article that I read in this module was from Richard Clarke’s (1994) paper on ‘Media will never influence learning’. In this paper he argues that media does not have any learning benefits on the learner but rather it can be seen to have only economic benefits to the learner as he aptly puts it “Media are mere vehicles that deliver instruction but do not influence learning achievement any more than the truck that delivers our groceries causes changes in our nutrition”. This school of thought left me critically thinking about the role of media in education.

I also managed to read a very good paper by David Boud (1998) on bad habits of assessment. In his paper, Boud (1998) emphasizes that assessment is a vital part of the teaching and learning process which focuses on educational goals. He further adds that well designed assessments are authentic and set in a realistic context, permits a holistic rather than a fragmented approach, are flexible for learners, involves learners in meaningful learning and adopts deep approaches to learning, and promotes self assessment or reflection.

Other readings which I made through this module (in addition to the readings given by Shirley) which I found very interesting while engaging and immersing in Module 3 were:

Curtz, T. (date unknown). Teaching self assessment, Retrieved on April 14, 2008, from

Dobrovolny, J. (2003). A model for self-paced technology-based training, Learning Circuits, Retrieved on April 14, 2008, from

Ely, D. (2003). Selecting media for distance education. ERIC Digest. ERIC Clearinghouse on Information Technology, Retrieved on April 11, 2008, from

Nuhfer, E. (2007). Self-reflection exercises and knowledge surveys in learning: A fractal thinker’s view of the power of the affective domain, 2007 POD Annual Meeting in Pittsburg, Retrieved on April 14, 2008, from

Posner, G. & Strike, K. (1976). A categorization scheme for principles of sequencing content, Review of Educational Research, American Educational Research Association, Vol. 43 (4), pp. 665-690, Retrieved on April 11, 2008, from

Smaldino, S. (1999). Instructional design for distance education. Tech Trends, Vol. 43 (5), pp. 9-13.

University of Alabama at Birmingham (2005). Media selection and design, Retrieved on April 11, 2008, from

University of Alberta Department of Educational Psychology (2004). Instructional strategies and sequencing, Retrieved on April 11, 2008, from

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Module 2 (Week 5) reflections

Prior to week 5, I had completed and had submitted my project outline of the my final ID project on creating an online course on teaching and learning using the Moodle LMS for the teaching staffs at the University of the South Pacific.

Module 2 was on Analysis phase of ID process. A very important and eye opening moment for me. Clark (1997) accurately puts it as the analysis phase being the fulcrum for “subsequent development activities” and “building blocks” in the systematic approach to ID. All this time, I was giving analysis a “superficial treatment”. This was due to the time constraint and the institutional forces that dictate the ID at my workplace. However, I have seen the very importance of analysis. It is like the blueprint for development, like the plan for a building a house –without it the builder would not know what he is building. Instead of placing a window the builder might just put up a wall. All the times that will be used for design and development of a course are wasted if has no solid basis or foundation which can only be derived by doing an analysis.

Analysis phase which includes needs assessment, learner and context analysis and learning outcomes are critical for developing a learner centred course. Interesting points were raised on the need for constructive alignment of learning outcomes, content and assessment of a course. While at my place the content was driving the outcomes – totally wrong.

This module allowed me to make some very informative and interesting readings. I managed to read about Multiple intelligence which was conceived by Howard Gardner which looked at the seven different ways of intellectual abilities – visual/spatial, verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, bodily/kinesthetic, music/rhythmic and inter/a personal intelligence. Another interesting reading I made was by Lisle (1997) which did a literature finding on the problems with the ADDIE approach to ID. These were:

- Need to distinguish between rational and creative approaches to ID. (Rowland et. al, 1994) and

- Need to shift from industrial to information age thinking and ID. (Reigeluth, 1997)

Leng (2002)’s article on considering the affective domains of learners in instructional designing was a very eye opening experience. He tried to raise the importance of considering affective goals of the learners in ID which prior to this I had never considered while at work or even in this study. Leng (2002) described that most ID considers learners’ cognitive objectives instead of affective goals because affective characteristics are “hidden”, not easily expressed, subjective, imprecise developed slowly and private. He further suggested that analyzing learners’ affective characteristics is an on-going process through interacting with learners prior to, during and after instruction. Another interesting paper I read during this module was by Karagiorgi and Symeou (2005) which looked at translating the constructivism theory into the instructional design process.

All in all, here is a list of readings (in addition to the readings given by Sirley) which I found very interesting while engaging and immersing in Module 2:

Gregore, A. F. & Ward, H. B. (1977). ‘Implications for learning and teaching: A new definition for individual’, NASSP Bulletin, Vol. 61, pp. 20-26.

Hood, K. (1995). ‘Exploring learning styles and instruction’, University of Georgia, Retrieved 25 March, 2008 from

Karagiorgi, Y. & Symeou, L. (2005). ‘Translating constructivism into instructional designing: Potential and limitattions’, Educational Technology and Society, Vol. 8 (1), pp. 17-27.

Leng, Y. (2002). ‘Learner analysis in instrcutioanl design: The affective domain’, CDTLink, National University of Singapore, pp. 14-15.

Lisle, P. (1997). ‘What is instructional design theory?’, Retrieved 26 March, 2008 from

Martin, F., Klein, J. & Sullivan, H. (2007). ‘The impact of instructional elements in computer-based instruction’, British Journal of Educational Technology, Vol. 38 (4), pp. 623-636.

Merill, D., Li, Z. & Jones, M. (1991). ‘Second generation instructional design’, Educational Technology, Vol. 30(1), pp. 7-11 and Vol. 30(2), pp. 7-14.

Richey, R. C., Fields, D. C. & Foxon, M. (eds.) (2000). ‘Instructional design competencies: The standards’, (3rd eds.) Syracuse, NY.

Spector, M. & Edmonds, G. (2002). ‘Knowledge management in instructional design’, ERIC Digest, Retrieved 26 March, 2008 from

Monday, March 17, 2008

Module 1 (week 2) reflections

Well module 1 of FET5601 is schedule to be covered in week 2 to 4 but I managed to finish it in week 2. (thanx to the government for a public holiday in Fiji).

The most interesting thing which I learned in module 1 was that the 4 part definition of Instructional designing - being a process, a discipline, a science and a reality, which is actually true. Prior to this I was always thinking of ID being a process.

I also developed a concept map (using Visio) to explain what ID means from my perspective.

There were some interesting thoughts on the definition of flexible learning. It was really good to read about the various definitions and connotations of flexible learning. For me I think flexible delivery is a vehicle for achieving flexible learning which includes open, distance and online learning. Flexible learning means leaners have a choice of what, how and when they want to study. This encompasses a learner’s learning styles, needs, outcomes, strategies, preferences and prior experience. Basically the learner is in control of their learning and they decide how, when and what their learning experience be.

The were some really good papers for module 1 readings. However I found the Siemens (2002) and Dougiamas (1998) very useful. In Seimens (2002), he discusses the various definitions, models and benefits of ID which I never knew. Dougiamas (1998) discusses the several types of constructivism which being trivial, radical, social, cultural and critical constructivism. I had a brief idea as to what constructivism was but this is the first time I had read about the several types of constructivism and how they are interrelated.

I have also started work on the project outline and getting a hang of stuffs. I am thinking of creating an online course on teaching and learning using the Moodle LMS for the teaching staffs at the University of the South Pacific (where I work). I also read the exemplars given for the course which has been really helpful in guiding me.

Iam ready to have my foray into this project.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Week 1 reflections

This week I started with the course proper of FET5601 Instructional designing for flexible learning, my 7th course in the Masters for Educational Technology programme. Since iam already working in the field of instructional designing (ID), I basically know aspects of ID.

Interesting thing which I have noticed in the course introduction is about graphic organizers. I, personally am not a big fan of concept mapping but after reading about it in the course introduction I have noticed the benefits of it. It gives a visual representation as to how the content all fits together, how they are connected and related to each other – a holistic view – the big picture kind of thing. From a learners point of view I see certain benefits:

- gives a overall picture – a snapshot, summary which is easier to comprehend and recall rather than a whole page of text.

- provides direction to the learner as to where he/she is and where they are to head to ( guides them)

Also I managed to find out the difference between mind mapping and concept mapping. Mind mapping considers only one concept while concept mapping considers several concepts All this time I was thinking that both mean the same or synonymous. I had never used Visio to do concept mapping and this week I had Visio installed in my PC and have started to learn how to use it…..the course is already bearing its fruit.

It was also good to see some familiar student names from previous courses and some new names. They bring a lot experience and diversity to the course which we all can learn from each other…..i think semester will be quite a learning adventure.

Can’t wait to progress with the course.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A new semester, a new course, a new reflection

Just starting with FET5601: Instructional Design for Flexible Learning course at USQ for Semester 1, 2008. This will be my 7th course in the Masters in the Educational Technology programme.

Iam already hyped about it and will use this space for my learning log.

Let the journey begin


Sunday, June 10, 2007

EDU5471 Self Reflection of Key Themes

I had never known much about how to do self-reflection. In fact, I had always found disabilities to do my own self-reflection. Through the duration of this course, I was continuously engaged in self-reflection exercises through the course activities, assignments, discussions, debate and blogging. And as this course draws to its end, I can say I have been able to develop skills in self-reflection, which I could not have done before. I have learned a life-long skill which can develop me into a better person in all facets of life. I am still learning and hope this piece of writing enable me to further develop my self-reflection skills.

Throughout the EDU5471 course, I had found matters outside the course subject but directly or indirectly related to the subject very intriguing and interesting. My key theme which I have reflected through the duration of the course has been on educational ICT (such as Web2.0 tools, multimedia and internet tools, learning management systems, adaptive technologies) and also its impact on the different learning process (such as constructivist, critical, higher-order, self-reflective, meta-cognitive thinking).

In terms of Web2.0 tools, I had managed to use features such as blog (which I had never used previously) for self-reflection, wikis (for group collaboration for the online debate) and learned about how to create podcasts and how it can be used in education (assignment 1). I had also learned more about other Web2.0 tools such as social networking sites (e.g. MySpace), video-sharing (e.g. YouTube), photo-sharing (e.g. flickr,, syndications, twitters, GoogleEarth, Second-Life. I also got to read an interesting paper on “What is Web 2.0” by Tom O’ Reilly (2005). All of these enhanced and added better understanding of Web2.0 applications and I have started use most of them in my personal and professional life.

I had initiated a discussion thread on free and open source software and what were other students’ thoughts about its future and use in education. Many thought (including me) that the ability to customize programs to individual needs and its ease of use was the way forward for cost-effective delivery of education. I had also able to broaden my understanding about learning management systems and how future learning management system will be designed and its impact on different learning processes. Through the discussions generated, I learnt that future learning management systems will offer media editing tools, incorporate Web2.0 tools and will offer greater customization and personalization and these will be based around the theories of constructivism and connectivism. These have enabled me to create online courses around those theories at my workplace.

Through the course discussions, activities and assignments, I have managed to gain greater understanding of the different learning theories such as constructivist, connectivist, transformative, differentiated, situated, network and collaborative learning and how it can be applied. I had previously been involved in these learning processes but never knew what the proponents of these processes are until I did this course. My understandings from these theories have and will enable me to better organize and plan my studies and as well my teaching.

These theories and this course have offered me a great experience in using critical, higher-order, distributed, self-reflective and meta-cognitive levels of thinking. These experiences have offered me a greater understanding of the educational pedagogy which I could use when I am designing courses for distance and flexible learning at my work place. Not only at work, but also these are life-long skills which I can use in my personal life and in my studies as well.

I also found interesting reading materials such as readings on (digital natives and immigrants, web2.0 tools, connectivism) software (such as photo story, scribefire, comic life,) and web resources (such as, citation machine) which other students had posted in the forum. I had not previously known about these resources. I can now learn it and use it to improve productivity.

Overall, this course has been a great experience in which I have been able to learn and develop my self.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Web Accessibility

The web is a dominant force today. It’s use is ever increasing and evolving simultaneously. This force should be accessible to the widest spectrum of users. However, there are forces within this force that does not permit it’s usage to it’s fullest capacity and to it’s widest ranges of users.

This paper was developed as a part of the USQ FET8610 Semester 3, 2006, Task 5. This article looks into what web accessibility is, the web disabilities, benefits of accessibility and some techniques to make an accessible website.

The Web is a useful medium of information, entertainment, communication and community (Clarke, 2002). It provides opportunities to participate in society in ways otherwise not available (Henry, 2006). Much of its power comes from the fact that it presents information in a variety of formats and methods. The challenge is to use design principles to create resources that are accessible by the widest spectrum of audiences. The problem is that most websites have accessibility barriers that make it difficult or impossible for many people with disabilities to use them or to contribute to the Web. Web accessibility is about removing those barriers so that people with or without disabilities can use and contribute to the Web. Accessibility is an essential component of a good web design (Corcoran & Corcoran, 2002). Many are standing at the shores of accessible web design, fearing sharks where there are only gentle waves (Moss, 2004).

What is Web Accessibility?
Web Accessibility refers to the designing of website which is accessible to a wide range of users. According to Wikipedia, web accessibility refers to the practice of making web pages accessible to people using a wide range of user agent software (such as web browsers and screen readers) and devices (like mobile phones and personal digital assistants). More specifically it means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate and interact with the web and can contribute to the web (W3C Web Accessibility Initiative). It enhances the usability for all users.

Issues Addressed Under Web Accessibility
Web Accessibility is aimed at addressing the physical and technological disabilities. However, as of yet there is no universally accepted categorizations of disabilities.

The physical disabilities are the inabilities to function normally, physically or mentally (The Free Dictionary) and these include:

Visual impairments including blindness, low vision, poor eyesight and color blindness.

Deafness or hearing impairments including of people who find it difficult to hear.

Difficulty or inability to use the hands/fingers including tremors, injuries to spinal cord and limbs, slowness of muscle and muscle control and due to conditions and illness (Web Accessibilty In Mind) such as the Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and others like like stroke, Lou Gehrig’s disease, spina bifida, arthritis, multiple sclerosis.

Developmental, learning and perceiving disabilities such as slow learners, cognitive disabilities of various origins affecting memory, attention, problem-solving and logic skills, reading, linguistic, verbal, math and visual comprehension disabilities.

Photo-epileptic seizures caused by visual strobe or flashing effects (Wikipedia).

Aging-Related Conditions
Old aging disabilities such as changes in abilities or a combination of abilities including vision, hearing, dexterity and memory (W3C Web Accessibility Guidelines).

The technological disabilities are the inabilities caused due to the connectivity, computer system, hardware and/or software being used. These include:

User Agent Devices & Software
Disabilities caused by the user software like Operating Systems, web browsers, media players, assistive technologies, and other software that people use to access and interact with web content. Websites works and displays differently in different web browsers (Clarke, 2002) and in different user devices. It also includes the disabilities caused by the use of other input devices to browse websites such as keyboard (Bohman,2002),wands & sticks, touch screens and joysticks (USQ knowledgeGarden).

Bandwidth & Connectivity
Disabilities caused by slow connections (Web Accessibility Initiative) and the type of connectivity such as dial up connections.

User Preferences

Disabilities caused by the user settings, preferences and different features enable or disabled (Web Matters).

Each of the categories of disabilities requires certain types of adaptations in the design of the web content (Web Accessibility Initiative). Most of the time, these adaptations benefit nearly everyone, not just people with disabilities.

Why Web Accessibility?
It is essential that web be accessible in order to provide equal access and equal opportunity to people with disabilities. While the primary focus of web accessibility is on access by people with disabilities, for a broader perspective, it can be considered that it is about designing website so that more people can use it effectively in more situations (Henry, 2006). Some of the reasons of making web accessible are:

• Increases Website Use

Accessible websites are easier to use, thus resulting in more users and increased usage. Therefore, increasing the market segments (Web Accessibility Initiative). Many organizations benefit financially when more people successfully use their website (Henry, 2006) which contradicts one of the most common accessibility myths – access is expensive (Clarke, 2002).

Improves Usability for all users
People with or without disabilities generally find accessible sites more usable. Increased usability means website users achieve their goals effectively, efficiently, satisfactorily and quickly. This leads to user retention and user acquisition (Henry, 2006).

• Supports Users with Low Literacy Level

Accessible websites supports users with low literacy level (Web Accessibility Initiative) such as those users with reading or comprehending difficulties or whose first language is not that of the site.

• Improves Search Engine Optimization
Making site accessible can significantly improve search engine optimization (Web Accessibility Initiative). Non text-based contents are not available to search-engines or other automatic data-mining applications. Text-based contents are highly likely to be picked up by the search engine spiders and thus increase the likelihood of a user finding the site. Employing accessibility techniques will most surely improve the web pages' ranking (Henry, 2006).

• Assists Users with Low Bandwidth Connectivity

By providing alternative content through following the accessibility techniques will assist users with low bandwidth connections which can lead to increase website use. Majority of the world’s users is limited to low bandwidth connections because of geographical isolation, or underdeveloped communications infrastructure (Gristock, 2003) or are forced by the economic or technical circumstances.

• Reduces Site Maintenance
Initially site development time increases when incorporating accessibility. However, in the long term, web accessibility can reduce the time and the money spent on site maintenance.

• Improves Server Performance
Web accessibility techniques improves server performances by reducing server load, increasing site download speed and imposing less strain on low bandwidth.

• Re-purposes Content for Multiple Format & Devices
In the continually evolving Web technologies, it makes sense to design web content and services that can be adapted quickly and efficiently to meet any new circumstances (Web Accessibility Initiative). Using of web accessibility techniques will require fewer adaptations to create multiple versions of site in multiple formats for multiple devices.

• Demonstrates Social Responsibility
Increasing the accessibility of website and online services to a wide range of people with disabilities will reinforce social responsibility (Web Accessibility Initiative) to the community and provide equal access and equal opportunity to people with disabilities. It also removes the perceptions from the disabled people that the web is only for the non-disabled.

• Required by Law
Antidiscrimination legislation in the most Western nations including the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the U.K. forbids discrimination or unequal treatment on the basis of disability (Clarke, 2002). Providing accessible websites and online services to people with disabilities is a form of adhering to the law.

Web Accessibility Techniques
These are guidelines, methods and standards that can be implemented in the website design to improve its usability and accessibility. Some of the web accessibility techniques are:

• Use clear and understandable content.
• Use simpler language for content rather then technical jargons. Information written simply and clearly is more accessible (Corcoran & Corcoran, 2002).
• Use a universal language for the content such as English unless the website’s intended audience prefers another language.
• Website content should be organized well (The Ohio State University Web Accessibility Center).

General Site Design & Navigation
• Maintain a simple, clear, logical and consistent design & layout throughout the site such as having a standard navigation system (Comden & Burgsthaler, 2002). This is particularly useful for users with cognitive disabilities (Simpkins, 2005).
• All links including the image links should describe its destination (Bohman, 2002). The links should use descriptive phrases (Comden & Burgsthaler, 2002) thus conveying its purpose (Bohman, 2002). Linked information should be readily accessible i.e users should be able to reach a particular page or information with few clicks (1 or 3 clicks) as possible (Sonnoff, 2006).
• Avoid broken and adjacent links.
• There should be an alternative text links if the navigation system is relying on image maps or image links (Farkas & Farkas, 2002).
• Use site maps and linked table of contents as it helps users in the quick retrieval of information.

• Keep the page background simple (Comden & Burgsthaler, 2002). Avoid busy and distracting backgrounds.
• Provide the highest color contrast between the text and the background (The Ohio State University Web Accessibility Center).
• Avoid the use of multiple colors in the site as this will be useful when the site is viewed using devices that don’t display color. Never use color alone to indicate differences between parts of the webpage (May, 2005).

• Provide text alternatives (ALT) for all images to make the content accessible (Comden & Burgsthaler, 2002). Text alternatives should be descriptive and brief (Bohamn, 2002).
• Use “D” links and “longdesc” attributes for complex images, graphs and diagrams (Web Accessibility Initiative) as it can help in conveying its purpose.
• Use a NULL value for unimportant images (Comden & Burgsthaler, 2002).
• Add captions or supplementary notes to the images.
• Images should be optimized for smaller file size as it aids users using slow connections.
• Provide text alternative version or HTML of the website if it’s a graphic intensive website (Comden & Burgsthaler, 2002).

Audio, Video & Animation
• Provide text alternatives or transcriptions in multiple languages (Lynch & Horton, 2002) for any video, audio and animation used in the site. For video and animations, the alternatives can be both captions of spoken word (subtitles) and auditory descriptions of relevant actions taking place on the screen (University of Wiscosin-Madison, Accessible Multimedia, Web Accessibility 101 Policy, Standards & Design Techniques). These alternatives should be synchronized with the action taking place on the screen.
• The text transcription alternative for audio should be stored as a HTML file. This should be available as a hyperlink immediately after preceding or following the audio link (University of Wiscosin-Madison, Accessible Multimedia, Web Accessibility 101 Policy, Standards & Design Techniques).
• Use video, audio or animations if there is a need for. Optimize these to smaller file size for easy deliverance over the low bandwidth. Do not overuse them.
• Deliver these through an embedded player in the browser as users may not have the appropriate programs installed in their machines to play these files.
• Provide text alternative or HTML version of the website if it’s a animation intensive website.

Applets, Plug-ins & PDF Files
• Provide text alternatives for JavaScripts or plug-ins for any critical function in the site (Corcoran & Corcoran, 2002).
• The website’s application should be designed to work using the standard plug-in so that users don’t have to download and install an additional/new plug-in. If it requires additional/new plug-ins then it should provide links as to where a user can download and install that particular plug-in.
• When using JavaScript make sure to employ the built in accessibility features that are within the Java Developer’s Kit (Comden & Burgsthaler, 2002).
• JavaScripts and plug-ins should work in a device-independent manner (May, 2005).
• When using PDF files display its size so that the users will know how long it will take to download. A link to PDF converters should be made so that users will be able to view the file on their PC. A HTML version of the PDF files should be made available for printing purposes and to cater for users with no PDF converters or who doesn’t wants to (or take time) to download.

Tables & Frames
• Provide row and column headers for data tables.
• Do not use tables for layout unless necessary and if used it should be linearized properly (W3C Web Accessibility Guidelines).
• Provide summaries for tables to briefly explain their purpose (May, 2005).
• Provide table headers.
• Use relative sizing for tables .i.e use percent than pixels for measurements (The Ohio State University Web Accessibility Center).
• Avoid the use of nested tables - tables inside a table.
• Use frames sparingly. And when frames are used it should be supported with alternative text (Comden & Burgsthaler, 2002).
• Use frame titles to facilitate identification and navigation.

• Use the Metadata standards for describing the web pages such as IMS and Dublin Core standards.

• Use emerging language specifications such as XHTML & XML for websites as it makes automatic conversions of content for alternative display easier (Web Accessibility Initiative).
• Structure documents with markups.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
• Use CSS to separate structure from presentation.
• CSS can be used to easily create different presentation for different devices (Web Accessibility Initiative) .
• CSS reduces file size for the web pages, increases the download speed and improves server performances.
• CSS ensures visual continuity for users as they navigate the site (Neilsen, 2000).

Testing & Validation
• The site should be tested on different browsers (including text browser) and on different platforms. The site should also be tested using different screen resolutions.
• Accessibility and Usability evaluation tools should be used to test the validity of the HTML (or XHTML) and the general website maintenance checks.
• Test the validity of the CSS (if any).

The web offers so many opportunities to people with disabilities that are unavailable through any other medium. It offers independence and freedom. However, if the web is not accessible, it excludes a segment of the population that stands to gain the most from the internet. As organizations and designers become aware of and implement accessibility, they will ensure that their content can be accessed by a broader population. Web accessibility is all about following design standards – it’s not just about access to web by the disabled users – it’s about everyone being able to access the web (Moss, 2004)


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Appendix 1: Resource Sites & Tools

Bobby Online
This free service will allows testing of web pages and help expose and repair barriers to accessibility and encourage compliance with existing accessibility guidelines, such as Section 508 and the W3C's Wed Content Accessibility Guidelines

Website Optimization
Free Website Performance Tool and Web Page Speed Analysis

Cynthia Says
The Cynthia Says is a web content accessibility validation solution, it is designed to identify errors in the web content related to Section 508 standards and/or the WCAG guidelines.

Web Accessibility Versatile Evaluator (WAVE)
WAVE is website accessibility verifier and is very informative in relation to accessibility alerts according to W3C guidelines.

A-Prompt is a free accessibility verifier (produced by University of Toronto)

HTML and CSS Validators

W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) works with organizations around the world to develop strategies, guidelines, and resources to help make the Web accessible to people with disabilities.

W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0
These guidelines explain how to make Web content accessible to people with disabilities

Illinois HTML/XHTML Accessibility Best Practices

Americans with Disabilities Act Section 508 Guidelines and Section 508

Appendix 2: Assistive Technologies & Devices

Assistive technology is any item, piece of equipment, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. Individuals use assistive technology to accommodate limitations due to their disabilities. These technologies greatly assist access to Web content for people with disabilities.

Examples include:
• Browsers specifically designed for people with disabilities such as BrailleSurf, BrookesTalk, EIAD.
• Voice Browsers such as CoversaWeb, webHearit and TelWeb
• Screen Readers are programs that read out using synthesized speech of what is being displayed on the monitor. Used by people who are visually impaired or have reading and learning difficulties. Eg: JAWS for Windows, ASAW, HAL and OutSpoken etc.
• Speech/Voice Recognition Software are useful for those who have difficulty using mouse or keyboard such as Talk It Type It, Speech Recognition with Windows XP and Dragon NaturallySpeaking.
• Screen Magnification programs which enlarges what is displayed on the computer screen such as VisAbilitiy, SuperNova and JAWS.
• Translation software that allows the reading of the website in foreign languages such as Mastor, BabelFish and MyPersonal Translator.
• Other assistive technologies such as Braille Embossers, Keyboard Filters, Light Signaler Alerts, On-Screen Keyboards and Refreshable Braille Displays.