Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access

Teach Access

Making Education Accessible for Everyone

CATEA and its Georgia Tech partners have taken a lead role in the Teach Access movement to embed accessibility throughout higher education and to expand educational experiences for students in computing, engineering, design, and related fields.

The Teach Access Initiative is comprised of prominent technology companies including Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, and HP, among others; key advocacy groups including American Foundation for the Blind; and leading academic institutions such as Georgia Tech, Carnegie Mellon University, Stanford University, and the University of Colorado, which are dedicated to building inclusively academic programs in design, engineering, and human-computer interaction that will better prepare students to address the needs of diverse populations.

To tackle these challenges, Teach Access has set forth four main objectives:

  • Core Education
    To include accessibility and universal design principles in the curricula of computer scientists, designers, and researchers in undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education.
  • Academic Leadership
    To foster expansion of accessibility in higher education through approaches such as internships, challenge grants for research and curriculum development, and industry partnerships. These initiatives will focus on practical applications for accessibility including open-source projects and research studies.
  • Learning Tools
    To build online learning tools that reflect and teach accessibility best practices. To make these tools widely available to individuals, companies and organizations.
  • Industry Initiatives
    To develop job descriptions that include preference for accessibility knowledge, to increase accessibility focus within recruitment activities, and to extend the post-secondary foundation through “on the job training” in product and service development.

As the lead academic unit, CATEA prepared and submitted an action plan that led to a two-day Kickstart Workshop in April 2016 at Yahoo in Sunnyvale, California. More than 40 participants, representing technical leadership across the tech industry, academia, and disability advocates, attended the meeting. The culmination of the meeting was the formation of six task forces to:

  1. Create teaching materials for diverse student audiences.
  2. Create evidence packets to help engage university leadership and administrators on the need for teaching accessibility.
  3. Pursue accreditation programs for viability of teaching accessibility.
  4. Create opportunities for student engagement beyond the classroom (conferences, internships, etc.).
  5. Investigate industry-sponsored competitions on accessibility and ways to embed accessibility into existing competitions.
  6. Investigate grant opportunities for professors to incorporate accessibility into coursework (e.g., to support student and faculty prizes, select equipment and tools, etc.).

To support and serve as a model program for these initiatives, CATEA and its academic partners in industrial design, psychology, and interactive computing are currently developing an interdisciplinary certificate program that will instill accessibility within a variety of unique and innovative educational experiences.

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