In order to successfully reach a wide audience, digital projects must take into account the variety of potential users and their diverse needs. Not everyone accesses information in the same way, though we often assume otherwise. For example, people with disabilities of many different kinds–sensory, physical, and cognitive–represent a significant percentage of users for many digital projects, but most of these projects are designed without thinking about accessibility. However, digital humanists can ensure that they are designing for all users by taking accessibility into account from the beginning of a project. And existing projects can be adjusted and modified to improve their accessibility.
This course will take a two-fold approach: students will read and discuss key works from disability studies scholarship in order to consider various applications for the digital humanities; these readings will form a critical framework for students’ hands-on work with tools that enable them to evaluate and create scholarly digital resources. Mornings will involve readings-based discussions on topics such as emerging standards for accessibility in digital environments, the social model of disability, user-centered design, and embodiment. Afternoons will be reserved for guided individual exercises and small-group work. Students are encouraged to bring their own projects or project ideas in order to evaluate them for accessibility and to make or plan changes as appropriate. Knowledge of and experience with web design is not required, but curiosity and a willingness to learn are a necessity.