Teaching Accessibility: A National Survey and the Way Forward

Handouts Media

Presented at 9:15am in Cotton Creek II on Friday, November 16, 2018.



  • Richard Ladner, Professor Emeritus, University of Washington

Session Details

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


A survey was done in 2017 of more than 14,000 computing and information science faculty in the US about whether or not they teach accessibility related topics and if not, why not. The results of the survey will be presented along with observations about how to increase the teaching of accessibility.


The paper titled "Who Teaches Accessibility?: A Survey of U.S. Computing Faculty" was presented at the 49th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE '18) in February 2017. Responses came from 318 of the 352 institutions we surveyed, totaling 1,857 out of 14,176 requests. Approximately 50% of the institutions had at least one instructor teaching accessibility and extrapolating, no fewer than 2.5% of faculty overall teach accessibility. Survey respondents that teach accessibility are twice as likely to be female, to have expertise in HCI and software engineering, and to know people with disabilities. The most critical barriers to teaching accessibility that faculty reported were the absence of clear learning objectives and the lack of faculty knowledge about accessibility. Suggestions for moving forward are motivated by the survey will be presented. The last 15 minutes will be spent in audience discussion about how to increase the teaching of accessibility topics.


  1. We now know the extent of teaching accessibility topics in the United States. It is not high.
  2. We now know some predictors of who teaches accessibility topics.
  3. We now know the barriers to teaching accessibility topics. They can be overcome.

Disability Areas

All Areas

Topic Areas

Teaching about Accessibility in Curriculum, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Richard Ladner

Richard E. Ladner is a Professor Emeritus in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington where he has been on the faculty since 1971. His current research is in the area of accessible computing which is an important subarea of human-computer interaction (HCI). He is the Principal Investigator (PI) for the NSF-funded AccessComputing Alliance that has the goal of increasing the participation of students with disabilities in computing fields. He is also a PI for the NSF-funded AccessCSforAll that helping K-12 teachers include students with disabilities in their computing classes. He is a recipient of the 2004 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) and the 2008 A. Nico Habermann Award. He is the winner of the 2014 SIGCHI Social Impact Award. He is the recipient of the 2016 SIGACCESS Award for Outstanding Contributions to Computing and Accessibility. He is the 2018 Stache Leadership Award from the Center on Disabilities at the California State University, Northridge (CSUN). He is an ACM Fellow and an IEEE Fellow. He is a member of the Board of the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in Information Technology (CMD-IT).