Promoting the Social Sustainability of Virtual Communities through Inclusive Design Practices

By D. Wood.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper describes strategies for incorporating changes in the design curriculum that address the need for graduate designers to be aware of, and to engage in, inclusive design practices that can help to promote the social sustainability of virtual communities. It is argued, that despite the advances in recent years, many Web designers are still unaware of the factors that impact on the social sustainability of virtual communities and are not skilled in the techniques required to engage in inclusive design practices. Academics have a significant responsibility for ensuring that the design curriculum provides students with an understanding of their ethical and social obligations as future designers, and equips them with the technical skills required to create fully compliant sites that are accessible to diverse audiences. A case study which describes the development of an undergraduate design program that promotes inclusive design practice in the curricula of three courses offered within the program is presented and the benefits for students completing these courses and the communities with which they engage through their program of study are discussed.

Keywords: Social Sustainability, Web Design, Usability, Accessibility, Virtual Communities, Undergraduate Design Curriculum

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.163-172. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 679.372KB).

Dr. D. Wood

Program Director (Media Arts), School of Communication, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Denise is responsible for the Bachelor of Media Arts program in the School of Communication, University of South Australia and she coordinates and is principal lecturer for several multimedia and Web design courses offered within the undergraduate and Honours programs at the University of South Australia. Denise is also Chair of the School of Communication Teaching and Learning Committee and Co-Chair of the Division's Equity Committee. Denise has extensive experience in the multimedia industry as both a producer and training provider and she has undertaken several research studies addressing the impact of technology in education. Denise's current research into strategies for embedding usability and accessible design practice within the undergraduate multimedia design curriculum is of particular relevance to her paper for this conference.

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