This course module has been developed within the HaptiMap project.
HaptiMap (Haptic, Audio and Visual Interfaces for Maps and Location Based Services) has received financial support from the European Commission in the Seventh Framework Programme, under the Cooperation Programme ICT – Information and Communication Technologies (Challenge 7 – Independent living and inclusion).


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About the course module

This accessibility course module is designed to fit into general courses in the curricula of design and engineering courses. Its purpose is to create initial awareness and basic understanding about accessibility, universal design and methods for user involvement in the design and development processes.

The approach of this course module is to influence students' motivation to design for diversity, taking the differences among people, environment and situations into account. It builds on a human rights perspective as well as that accessibility will increase the user experience for everyone.

This course module can be used in a flexible way. A short version lasts for one week and consists of two 1-hour theory lectures with one 1-2 hours practice lecture in between and some home assignments to choose from. This first week could be extended by another week repeating this structure, permitting larger assignments or projects.

Week 1
Lecture 1, Theory: Accessibility, universal design, dynamic user experiences
Lecture 2, Practice: Invited guests with disabilities
Lecture 3, Theory: Design methods

Week 2
Lecture 4, Theory: Human rights
Lecture 5, Practice: Experiential exercises
Lecture 6, Theory: Accessibility tools

The first theory lecture includes accessibility, universal design, dynamic user experiences and a short video to trigger reflection and discussion. The practice lecture consists of 1-2 invited guests with disabilities. The second theory lecture includes design methods involving users to increase accessibility and universal design.

For the two-week version of the course module the first theory lecture presents the human rights perspective and a few more videos. The second 1-2 hours practice lecture consists of either experiential exercises using wheelchairs and white canes, or one or two more invited guests with disabilities. The final theory lecture consists of presentation of some tools that can be used to check and increase accessibility.

It is very important to meet real people with disabilities, even in a first introductory course module. This is important to motivate the students and to give them a feeling of personal relation to a person with a disability. Hence, their attitudes towards people with disabilities will hopefully improve as well as their willingness to develop more accessible products.

Empathic exercises are also important during the introductory course module, for example trying to use wheelchairs, being blindfolded or trying to perform tasks with only one arm or hand. This will open the students’ eyes for problems they never knew of and will be a good base for reflection and discussions.


Learning outcome

Knowledge and understanding

For a passing grade the student must:

  • be able to describe the seven principles of universal design.
  • be able to describe the specific difficulties that people with different disabilities can experience.
  • be able to identify and analyse problematic situations for people with disabilities.
  • be able to evaluate the accessibility of a product for people with disabilities.

Skills and abilities

For a passing grade the student must:

  • be able to identify shortcomings of products, services and environments and propose improvements according to the seven principles of universal design.

Judgement and approach

For a passing grade the student must:

  • be able to take into account that people are different with a great variety of conditions and abilities.
  • be able to express the attitude that it is a positive challenge to try to create a more accessible society.