UW Accessibility Capstone Course: A Promising Practice in Teaching Accessibility

One way to integrate information about accessibility in the computing curriculum is to teach a capstone course focused on the topic, as is done at the University of Washington (UW). The UW Accessibility Capstone Course provides students with

  • exposure to the engineering, design, economic and social challenges facing designers, engineers, researchers, entrepreneurs, clinicians, older adults, and individuals with disabilities in the design, development, and use of accessible technology;
  • engagement in a team-based project experience that exercises collaborative working skills and applies an engineering design process to tackle difficulties experienced by individuals with disabilities and older adults; and
  • participation and Interaction with users of accessibility features and assistive technology in the local community along with health care professionals, coaches, and caregivers.

It also gives students more opportunities to

  • think critically about the complex relationship between technology and diverse abilities;
  • communicate effectively about diverse abilities and about design process through interviews with Need Experts, in-class discussions, report writing, project presentations and media production; and
  • apply design and engineering skills to create technology solutions that increase independence and improve quality of life for people of all abilities.

The UW Accessibility Capstone Course is a promising practice in teaching accessibility for exposing students to the topic of accessibility and helping students to engage with multiple stakeholders in the design of products. For more information about this topic, consult Building Capacity to Increase the Participation of People with Disabilities in Computing (2016) and AccessComputing Curricula Resources.