Back in April, our paper ‘Teaching Accessibility as a Shared Endeavour’ was shortlisted for the Best Communication prize at Web4All 2022. As a result we were invited to write for the October SIGACCESS newsletter – the special interest group on accessible computing. You can read the full report on our project rationale and methods in our article ‘Researching Pedagogy in Digital Accessibility Education‘. Our piece introduces the context of our project, the drivers of our work, our methods and approaches, as well as some of the key challenges in the field for accessibility educators. We also reflect on how pedagogic research methods can make a sustained contribution to computing education practice through research outputs, and a methodological process designed to stimulate dialogue, networks, reflexive teaching and learning development.

We were delighted to present a paper at the 19th International Web for All Conference (W4A’22) on 25 April.

With the theme ‘Accessibility in a Hybrid World’, the conference took place virtually, presenting a range of excellent keynotes, technical and communication papers, the Doctoral Consortium and the Accessibility Challenge.

Titled Teaching accessibility as a shared endeavour: building capacity across academic and workplace contexts, our paper was nominated for Best Communications Paper.


The social model of disability, accessibility legislation, and the digital transformation spurred by COVID-19 expose a lack of accessibility capacity in the digital workforce, indicating persistent gaps in academic and professional education. This paper reports qualitative research with 30 expert educators in academia and the workplace to consider the relationship between these sectors in building accessibility capacity. Their insights highlight important disconnects and contextual challenges that educators must manage and navigate. Digital accessibility is increasingly recognised as a shared endeavour in the workplace. However, in academia, faculty cultures and disciplinary silos can result in responsibility for accessibility defaulting to individuals. To prepare accessibility-skilled professionals, cross-role education and training is necessary across disciplines. With a focus on teaching and training practices, we highlight the need for academia and the workplace to learn from each other and adapt together to generate pedagogies that will better prepare learners for accessibility practice.

An open access Authors Draft is available via the Southampton University e-prints repository.

Please cite the paper as follows:

Coverdale, A. Lewthwaite, S., and Horton, S. 2022. Teaching accessibility as a shared endeavour: building capacity across academic and workplace contexts. In Proceedings of the 19th International Web for All Conference (W4A ’22). ACM, New York, NY, USA, Article 4, 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1145/3493612.3520451

The Teaching Accessibility research team is collaborating with Teach Access in the United States and accessibility researchers, educators, advocates, and professionals worldwide to publish a research topic in the Human-Media Interaction section of Frontiers in Computer Science, an open access journal. Our research topic is Advancing Digital Accessibility in Academic and Workplace Education. Submissions are open for articles covering original research as well as general commentary and opinion pieces. If you have insights and perspectives on digital accessibility teaching and learning that you’d like to share, select the Participate button on the Research Topic page to provide your contact details, so we can keep you updated.

Origins of the Research Topic

In our work researching how accessibility is taught and learned in academic and workplace contexts, we have had the benefit of hearing from a global community of researchers, educators, advocates, and professionals working to build digital accessibility capacity through education. We’ve heard about how the topic is (or isn’t) embedded in computer science, information science, software engineering, design, and other relevant disciplines. We’ve heard about the challenges of addressing the complexity of accessibility topics, building disability awareness and ethical practices alongside technical and procedural knowledge and skills. The need for digital accessibility education is clear, as is the investment among educators in developing effective pedagogy to address the unique challenges of the topic. But digital accessibility is relatively undefined and underdeveloped as a subspeciality in academic and workplace education programs. We see an opportunity to develop greater maturity in digital accessibility by setting up a forum for sharing perspectives and approaches to building digital accessibility capacity through education.

Why Frontiers?

In choosing a forum for generating interest and excitement, and building knowledge about digital accessibility education, we wanted a platform that would generate impact, allowing open access to new viewpoints from around the world. Previously, Sarah Horton on our team contributed to the Web Accessibility research topic for the same journal and section. As of this writing, the research topic page and articles combined represent 25,504 views, and Sarah’s opinion article, Empathy Cannot Sustain Action in Technology Accessibility, has 5,728 total views. This type of impact is substantial, particularly for an academic publication.

Frontiers is an Open Access platform, and articles are available to anyone without login, payment, or advertising. With open access, authors, institutions, and funders cover publishing costs through fees. Frontiers has a Fee Support Program to assist authors who have limited or no funding to cover publication fees. You can learn more about Frontiers and open access journals, and get more details about the journal, fees, and the editorial process. If you have questions about publication fees or any other aspect of the publishing process, please contact the Frontiers Editorial Office at computerscience@frontiersin.org for assistance.

Next Steps

We have a team of topic editors, with Sarah Lewthwaite, Sarah Horton and Andy Coverdale from the University of Southampton, UK, Kate Sonka from Teach Access, USA, Gottfried Zimmermann from Stuttgart Media University, Germany, Yasmine Elglaly from Western Washington University, USA, and Scott Hollier from Edith Cowan University, Australia.

Submission deadlines are:

  • Abstracts: We are accepting abstracts starting now through 1 July 2022. Note that you are not required to submit an abstract to contribute.
  • Manuscripts: We are accepting manuscripts from now through 31 December 2022.

Reviews are ongoing, with reviewers assigned to manuscripts as they are submitted. Articles are published once they are approved for publication by the reviewers and editors, which is much more dynamic than traditional academic publications.

If you are interested in participating, enter your details by selecting the Participate button on the Research Topic page. This will add your name and email to the system, where you will receive notifications about deadlines. And please contact us individually or through the TeachingAccessibility@soton.ac.uk email if you have any questions or concerns.

We are very excited to work with experts worldwide to forge a path toward increasing digital accessibility capacity through education, building engagement with digital accessibility, and supporting disability inclusion in the digital world.