Web Design & Development Course Curriculum Gets an Upgrade (AccessComputing News - January 2013)

Terrill Thompson, AccessComputing Technology Specialist

In Summer 2012, AccessComputing began work to update its Web Design & Development curriculum. The curriculum, originally developed with funding from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research of the U.S. Department of Education, is a project-based introduction to web design developed for use primarily in secondary schools, grades 9-12. The curriculum emphasizes standards-based and accessible design, and students learn to consider accessibility throughout the course as they learn and apply new skills and techniques.

The curriculum is available for free and since its debut in 2005, over 3000 teachers in all fifty U.S. states plus hundreds of teachers internationally have created accounts to access the instructor's version. Many of the teachers who use the curriculum have reported being tasked with teaching courses in web design as a secondary discipline, without necessarily having much expertise in web design. The curriculum therefore provides an opportunity for teachers to learn about accessible, standards-based web design and to pass that knowledge on to their students.

The current updates include all new lessons on HTML5, Cascading Style Sheets, and JavaScript, with accessibility-related content included in many of the lessons. Student projects, including a culminating project in which students develop websites for local clients, must pass HTML and CSS validation tests and semi-automated checks using free online accessibility checkers that students learn to use.

Approximately 200 classes nationwide participated in a Fall 2012 pilot using the curriculum, and AccessComputing staff is currently working with a small team of high school web design instructors to finalize the upgrade using feedback and feature requests collected during the pilot.

The upgraded version is available at www.uw.edu/accesscomputing/webd2.