Jun 1, 2019
Slide from Andy Ko on Accessibility Throughout the Curriculum

AccessComputing hosted a pre-symposium event as part of the annual Technical Symposium of the ACM SIGCSE (Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education) called What to Teach about Accessibility. The event was held in Minneapolis, MN on February 27, 2019. 

The goal of the workshop was to share ideas and strategies to integrate disability and accessibility into the computing curriculum. Participants shared and learned about how accessibility topics can be integrated into computing/IT courses and how faculty in these fields can be encouraged to include accessibility topics in their courses. Promising practices and resources were shared by multiple presenters with diverse backgrounds. Teaching about accessibility in postsecondary computing education will result in a high-tech workforce able to design and develop technology usable for a wide audience, including individuals with disabilities. 

It is important to distinguish between teaching about accessibility and accessible teaching:

  • Teaching accessibility. Helping computing students understand what disability and accessibility mean, and how these topics relate to the design and engineering of computing systems.
  • Accessible teaching. Ensuring that the pedagogy and materials a teacher uses can be accessed regardless of a student’s abilities. 

There is an entire research area focused on accessible computing design, that is discussed in a specific research conference, and produces profound ideas about how computing systems can and should be designed. However, this workshop instead engaged some of the most active higher education faculty members who teach about accessibility in their courses, as well as other faculty members who are passionate about learning how to do so. The speakers shared fascinating, thoughtful, and unique content. It was quite clear based on the experiences shared at this workshop that not only is accessibility easily integrated into many parts of computing courses, but that it actually enriches the understanding of other core computing topics.

Proceedings from this event are hosted on the AccessComputing webpage and can be used to reference summaries, discussion notes, and a variety of other resources.