7970 Syllabus (Winter 2012)

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LIS 7970 G01: Web Usability/Accessibility, Winter 2012

St. Catherine University, Master of Library and Information Science Program (As of 1/16/12)

Credit hours: 3
Time: Thursdays, 6:00-9:00pm, CDC Room 5
Instructor: Joyce Yukawa
Office: CDC 050; Hours: before/after class & by appointment
Contact: jyukawa[at]stkate[dot]edu
Course website: Registered students may request access at 7970w12 PBworks. Please check the website for required readings for the first class.

I. Course Description

This course builds on understandings and skills gained in LIS 7530. Topics include web usability and accessibility with a focus on persons with disabilities, universal design, usability/accessibility evaluation and testing, assistive technology, and web accessibility standards and laws. The major project is a critical assessment of a website from usability/accessibility perspectives, user tests of the site, and the creation of a plan to redesign parts of the website to improve its usability and accessibility. Prerequisites: LIS 7010, 7030, 7040, 7050 (for students matriculating from Fall 2011), 7530, or by permission of the instructor.

II. Texts


  • Krug, S. (2009 or 2010). Rocket surgery made easy: The do-it-yourself-guide to finding and fixing usability problems. Berkeley, CA: New Riders Press.
  • Thatcher, J., et al. (2006). Web accessibility: Web standards and regulatory compliance. Berkeley, CA: Friendsofed.
  • US Dept. of Health & Human Services. Usability.gov


Other Useful References

  • Brown, D. M. (2007). Communicating design: Developing web site documentation for design and planning. Berkeley, CA: New Riders Press. ISBN: 0321392353. On reserve.
  • Goodwin, K. (2011). Designing for the digital age: How to create human-centered products and services. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley. 
  • Johnson, J. (2010). Designing with the mind in mind. Boston: Morgan Kaufmann.
  • Krug, S. (2006). Don't make me think: A common sense approach to web usability (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: New Riders Press. ISBN: 0321344758. On reserve.
  • Mates, B.T. (2011). Assistive technologies in the library. Chicago: American Library Association. On reserve.
  • Nielsen, J., & Loranger, H. (2006). Prioritizing web usability. Berkeley, CA: New Riders Press. 
  • Rubin, J., & Chisnell, D. (2008) Handbook of usability testing: How to plan, design, and conduct effective tests (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.
  • Redish, J. (2007). Letting go of the words: Writing web content that works. Boston: Morgan Kaufmann.
  • Tullis, T., & Albert, W. (2008). Measuring the user experience: Collecting, analyzing, and presenting usability metrics. Boston: Morgan Kaufmann.
  • Wodtke, C., & Goyella, A. (2009). Information architecture: Blueprints for the Web (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: New Riders Press.

III. Student Learning Outcomes

Course Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, the student will be able to:  

  • Describe the usability and accessibility needs of web users, with attention to differing sensory, motor, and cognitive abilities.
  • Understand and apply the principles and practices of universal design and web accessibility.
  • Understand and apply web accessibility laws, standards, and guidelines.
  • Identify accessible and assistive technologies and their appropriate uses in online information settings.
  • Critically evaluate and test websites from usability and accessibility perspectives.

These are achieved through lecture, discussion, collaboration, and practice, especially the Website Redesign Project.

MLIS Program Student Learning Outcomes

This course helps students meet the following MLIS Program student learning outcomes (SLOs):

  • Identify and analyze information needs and opportunities of individuals and organizations. (SLO 1)
  • Demonstrate critical thinking by integrating relevant models, theories, research and practices.(SLO 2)
  • Demonstrate information technology fluency. (SLO 6)
  • Demonstrate awareness of diverse groups and how to serve them effectively. (SLO 9)

MLIS Program Curriculum Threads Addressed

  • Diversity
  • Research
  • Technology
  • Ethics

IV. Course Philosophy & Learning Strategies

The approach taken in this class is inquiry and project/problem-based learning, described as:

  • Student-driven
  • Focused on exploration, questioning, critical thinking, and reflection
  • Goes beyond information accumulation in aquest for knowledge that favors depth over breadth
  • Seeks solutions, not answers
  • Collaborative learning using diverse expertise to teach each other

Resources we bring to the learning:

  • Knowledge of and experience with the internet, library services, and user needs
  • Knowledge of and experience with critical thinking/research
  • Teamwork in social and professional settings
  • Motivation

V. Assignments

Citation style: Preferred style is APA. For more information on style, refer to the citation style guides at Netvibes Portable Resources.

Website Redesign Project

This assignment provides you with the opportunity to practice web usability and accessibility evaluation and testing, and further develop your web design skills. You will conduct usability/accessibility evaluations and user tests on an existing website, and then create a plan to redesign parts of the website to improve its usability and accessibility. The project consists of four assignments, worth 80% of your grade:

1 Redesign Scenario

You will write an overview of the redesign scenario that will be used for your chosen website. This should include information about the context, content, users, and accessibility - e.g., the name of your organization, its mission, its primary stakeholders, and the primary content made available to users. You will also compare websites that are similar to yours, e.g., same type of institution, subject area, professional field, information and/or services offered. Due Mar 1.

2 Usability/Accessibility Test Plan 

You will create a usability test plan that includes personas, task scenarios, methods of user recruitment, testing location, roles, test objectives, test facilitator's script, and methods for observation, data capture, and analysis. You will conduct the usability test on two people. You will also independently conduct accessibility tests. Due Mar 29.

3 Usability/Accessibility Test Report

You will create a report of the results of your tests, including a summary of your observations, results of conducting the task scenarios, results of your accessibility tests, and recommendations to address usability and accessibility problems identified. Due Apr. 26.

4 Final Redesign Report

The Final Redesign Report draws from the previous three assignments and presents your recommendations for website redesign to key stakeholders. The report should include: (1) cover page, table of contents, and executive summary; (2) overview of research results: context, content, users; (3) comparative website analysis summary; (4) list of user groups, with two sample personas and task scenarios; (5) usability and accessibility test results summary and priority areas that need to be addressed; (6) strategy for addressing these needs; and (7) overview of the new design and how it accomplishes the strategy. Due May 17.

Learning Blog

Throughout the semester, you will keep a personal weekly blog to share thoughts and ideas on best practices for designing for web usability and accessibility as you progress through the course. Posts should be at least 200 words, though you are welcome to write more if inspired. The art of blogging is writing succinctly but meaningfully. Writing can be informal, but should demonstrate critical thinking and thoughtful reflection on ideas, feelings, and activities related to core concepts, learning discoveries, and collaborative work. One week before the end of the course, look back over your blog posts and prepare a one-page summary of what you believe you have accomplished for yourself and submit this by the last day of class. Maintaining the blog over the course of the term is part of your class participation grade, as is monitoring other students' blogs. Final summary due May 10.

Class Participation

Active class participation is essential to the atmosphere of this class because we learn from each other and participation acts as a model of professional work. Full points (10 points) will be given if all the following criteria are met: completing all assignments on time, perfect attendance, regularly contributing to class discussions, regularly contributing in small group exercises, encouraging others to participate in asking questions and making relevant comments during class discussions and lectures. The scale goes down to one (1) point for the following: Three or more absences, incomplete exercises, no contributions to class discussions, little contribution to small group work. Points: 10% of grade.

VI. Assessment

Table 1. Grading Scale

A A- B+ B B- C+ C C- F
94-100 90-93 86-89 82-85 78-81 74-77 70-73 65-69 0-64

Table 2. Assignments and Grading

* [] indicate base score that will be integrated into the Final Redesign Report after any needed revisions.

Assignment Points
Website Redesign Scenario *[18]
Usability-Accessibility Test Plan *[33]
Usability-Accessibility Test Report *[45]
Final Redesign Report 114
Learning Blog 20
Class Participation 16
Total 150

VII. Other Course Requirements & Information

Assignment Due Dates

All assignments will be due at the beginning of the class period. Late assignments will be accepted for up to 3 days after they are due, with a 5% reduction in grade per day late.

Sometimes emergency or other understandable circumstances prevent students from turning in assignments on time. In these cases, assignments more than 3 days late may be accepted on prior consultation with the instructor.

SCU Attendance Policy

St. Catherine University has instituted an attendance policy for its graduate classes. Of note is the policy that those who do not attend the first class session may be dropped by the Registrar.

Professionalism and Academic integrity

Regular attendance is very important. It is very difficult to keep up without attending every class. If you will miss class, you should notify the instructor in advance.

You are responsible for checking your St. Kate's email account for messages from the instructor. Check your email at least once a day.

St. Catherine University expects each of its students to uphold the Student Code of Conduct, which includes civility, respect for differences, and academic integrity and honesty. Appropriate credit must be given to original creators of all works used. Major violations are cheating and plagiarism. Cheating includes copying others’ works, collaborating without authorization, and accessing others’ computer files without authorization. Plagiarism includes intentionally or unintentionally using someone else’s words, works, thoughts, or expression of ideas without giving proper credit. Please see the St. Catherine University Academic Integrity Policy.

Special Needs

Special needs can include, but are not limited to, factors influencing the learning process in and out of the classroom, such as mobility, physical, learning, and cognitive challenges. Students with special needs are invited to contact the Disability Services office so that accommodations can be provided. Please inform the instructor during the first two weeks of class if you have special needs.

Emergency Situations

St. Kate's has an Emergency Preparedness page. We hope no one will be infected, but if you are, we will make every effort to allow you to complete the course without physically attending class.

Since St. Catherine University is committed to the healthy well being of our community, we support The Centers for Disease Control’s following recommendation: students, faculty, or staff with influenza like illnesses (temperature of 100.0 or greater, plus a cough or sore throat) are directed to self isolate (or stay home) for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine. In the event that students are unable to attend classes due to this self isolation recommendation, they should notify their professors of their absence. Faculty will provide opportunities for these students to participate in alternative delivery of class material due to illness.