Teaching about Accessibility in Computer Science Education

Tentative Author List:

  • Richard Ladner, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
  • Stephanie Ludi, University of North Texas, Denton, TX, USA
  • Robert Domanski, Kean University, Union, NJ


Accessibility, in the context of computer science, is about making computing products accessible to people with disabilities.  This means designing hardware and software products that can be used effectively by people who have difficulty reading a computer screen, hearing computer prompts, or controlling the keyboard, mouse, or touchscreen.  Thus, accessibility topics should be woven into any course about human-facing applications or websites, such as app and web design/development, software engineering, and human-computer interaction.  In addition, accessibility is about creating technical solutions to accessibility problems that people with disabilities encounter in everyday living.  These technical solutions may include the use of artificial intelligence, computer vision, natural language processing, or other CS topics.  Thus, accessibility topics can be included in technical courses, particularly those that incorporate projects where students attempt to solve accessibility problems using techniques taught in the course.

There are practical, intellectual, and social reasons to integrate accessibility into computer science curriculum.  From a practical standpoint, employers increasingly include accessibility knowledge in job descriptions because they want their products and services to be accessible to more customers and for legal compliance.  From an intellectual standpoint, technical solutions to many accessibility problems often require creativity and a multi-disciplinary approach that includes understanding user needs integrated with technical knowledge.  From a social standpoint, accessibility is an important topic in addressing inclusivity and an attractive topic for those students who enter the field to do social good, leading to a broader mix of students in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, and ability.

Contact: Robert Domanski