Development of the Student Perceptions of Accessibility (SPA) scale and applications for student success


Presented at 11:30am in Colorado G-H on Thursday, November 17, 2022.



  • Nicholas Matthews, Postdoctoral research scholar, California State University, Long Beach
  • Alejandra Priede, Assistant Professor, California State University, Long Beach

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: All Levels
  • Type of session: General Conference


This presentation explores two topics. First, this presentation covers the iterative development of the Student Perceptions of Accessibility (SPA) scale for online instructional materials. Second, this presentation highlights a significant and positive relationship between perceived accessibility and student success. The development of the SPA scale will enable systematic evaluations of perceived accessibility, significantly enhancing opportunities for accessibility research and practice.


Students enrolled in online courses rely heavily on instructional materials such as documents, videos, images, assignments, and learning management systems. By law, these materials must be accessible. Surprisingly, however, no existing instrument measures student perceptions of the accessibility of instructional materials. To address this gap, the researchers developed the Student Perceptions of Accessibility (SPA) scale based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) principles of perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust materials. Results of several iterations of item development and factor and reliability analysis suggest the SPA scale is a reliable, valid measure of perceived accessibility of instructional materials.

During the scale development process, the researchers also examined the relationship between perceived accessibility of instructional materials and student success. For example, results of a regression model constructed during pilot testing suggest perceived accessibility is a significant and positive predictor of perceived learning for college students with disabilities (n = 116).

Overall, the SPA scale constitutes a promising instrument for measuring perceived accessibility of instructional materials. This study also provides some of the first systematic evidence of a relationship between accessibility and student success. Recommendations for further research and the relevance of the SPA scale for practitioners are discussed. The presenters also invite participants to provide feedback on the SPA scale items and contribute to an interactive discussion about the scale.


  1. The Student Perceptions of Accessibility (SPA) scale is a reliable, valid measure of perceived accessibility.
  2. Perceived accessibility of instructional materials is a significant predictor of student success.
  3. The SPA scale offers substantial utility for accessibility research and practitioners.

Disability Areas

Topic Areas

Accessible Course Design, Accessible Educational Materials, Research, Uncategorized, Web/Media/App Access

Speaker Bio(s)

Nicholas Matthews

Nicholas Matthews, Ed.D. is a postdoctoral research scholar at California State University, Long Beach, and a tenured Assistant Professor of Communication Studies and faculty Distance Education Coordinator at Cerritos College. Dr. Matthews' dissertation research examined the relationship between accessibility and disabled student success in higher education. Dr. Matthews is an experienced accessibility professional development speaker, working primarily with faculty and staff audiences to strengthen accessibility knowledge and practice.

Alejandra Priede

Dr. Alejandra Priede is an Assistant Professor in the Educational Leadership Department at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). She has 16 years of experience in designing and conducting research and program evaluations. Her research focuses on improving research and evaluation methodologies, studying underrepresented students' and student teachers' academic success and well-being, and understanding student teachers' and early career teachers' identity factors and career choices. Dr. Priede has taught statistics, research methods, program evaluation, and diversity courses at the master’s and doctoral level. Dr. Priede earned her Ph.D. in Social Research Methodology with an emphasis in program evaluation and her Master's in Advanced Quantitative Methods in Educational Research from UCLA and her B.A. in Economics from the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM). In addition, she has developed and facilitated several racial justice and healing circles and retreats.