Best Practices for Teaching Accessibility in University Classrooms: Cultivating Awareness, Understanding, and Appreciation for Diverse Users

Publication Date


Document Type



As Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) become more diffuse, developers and designers need to consider a growing diversity of users including people with disabilities and aging populations. As a result, computing education needs to respond by providing students opportunities to learn about accessibility and designing for inclusion. This article presents results of a qualitative research study of practices in teaching accessibility in university-level programs in the US. The study included interviews with 18 professors from some of the top universities in the US and a content analysis of syllabi and other teaching materials. Using the pedagogical theory of authentic learning and elements from the 21st Century Skills framework, we found that instructors emphasized the need for students to develop awareness and understanding for a diversity of ICT users through multiple different experiences; experiences that included research projects that directly involve users with disabilities, guest speakers, field trips, simulating disabilities, and the use of videos/movies. Additionally, instructors used multiple resources (e.g., research papers, online resources), in part, to offset the challenge that there is a perceived lack of a comprehensive textbook. Instructors also emphasized the importance of their individual initiative; that is, the inclusion of accessible topics or courses was often linked to a faculty member's research and/or personal commitment. This article contributes to a gap in the literature by disseminating and sharing different approaches to teaching accessibility across multiple instructors, courses, and campuses. © 2016 ACM.

Publication Title

ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing








pre-print, post-print

This document is currently not available here.

Find in your library