Teach Access: On A Mission to Ensure Products Are Born Accessible

Presented at 9:15am in Plaza Court 1 on Friday, November 19, 2021.



  • Kate Sonka, Executive Director, Teach Access
  • Chris Yoon, Program Manager, Microsoft
  • Cyndi Wiley, Digital Accessibility Lead, Iowa State University

Session Details

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


Teach Access unites industry, academia, and disability advocacy groups to introduce students to accessible design and development principles. Recent achievements will be shared, including Virtual Study Away, resource development, accreditation efforts, Faculty Grants, and what the next 5 years will bring to ensure products are “born accessible”.


Teach Access endeavors to introduce students to accessible design and development principles. This presentation will provide an overview of the past five years since Teach Access was founded, as well as a preview of where things go from here, including our goal of reaching 1 million students by 2030.

Highlights to be covered:

-Summary of the Study Away Silicon Valley program.

-Findings and results of the Faculty Curriculum Development Grant program.

-Efforts to incorporate accessible design and development principles into the accreditation criteria for engineering and design schools.

-Development of various resources for teaching accessibility and for supporting companies as they hire recent graduates with accessibility skills and knowledge.

-Information about how to get involved with the organization.

Attendees will come away with a good understanding of Teach Access and how they might be able to get involved. There will be ample time for Q&A throughout the presentation.


  1. Teach Access will reach 1 million students by 2030 to ensure future products are "born accessible".
  2. 60% of industry reports it is difficult to find job candidates with accessibility skills.
  3. Teach Access is about teaching accessibility, not teaching accessibly.

Disability Areas

All Areas

Topic Areas

Faculty Development & Support, Teaching about Accessibility in Curriculum, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Kate Sonka

Kate Sonka (she/her/hers) is the Executive Director of Teach Access and the Assistant Director of Inclusion & Academic Technology at the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University. She holds a Master’s degree in Bilingual/Bicultural Education and over 12 years of experience in higher ed. She improves teaching and learning with technology through course design and support, experiential learning, and training and mentorship for faculty members and students. In exploring how accessibility exists in professional and academic spaces, she helped establish the Teach Access Study Away Silicon Valley program, implement the Teach Access Faculty Curriculum Development Grants program, and founded the Accessible Learning Conference at Michigan State University.

Chris Yoon

Chris Yoon is a Program Manager working on creating accessible and inclusive meeting experiences through Cortana, Microsoft’s enterprise voice assistant. He graduated from Stanford University with a BA in Music and an MS in Computer Science in 2019. As a visually impaired technology enthusiast, Chris has always been passionate about accessibility. Chris first joined Teach Access (TA) when he was an Accessibility intern under TA co-founder Larry Goldberg at Yahoo in 2016. Since then, he was a TA Student Ambassador at Stanford and an accessibility research intern at Olin College of Engineering, where he co-authored a paper on using augmented reality technology for indoor navigation. Now he is excited to be part of the TA Student Committee to bring Study Away to more students this year through the virtual format.

Cyndi Wiley

Cyndi Wiley, Ph.D. (Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs) is the Digital Accessibility Lead for Iowa State University and Associate Graduate Faculty in Graphic Design. They began their career in the late ‘90s in St. Louis, Missouri, working as a graphic designer and creative director, running a business, and developing a deep love of cats. Cyndi has 10 years of experience teaching face-to-face and fully online courses in interactive media, game design, and graphic design. Their research areas are UX/UI, game design, serious games, intersectionality of art and technology, and digital accessibility. Cyndi holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design and a PhD in Human Computer Interaction from Iowa State University.