Teaching Accessibility at the University of Southampton and Teach Access are hosting a Global Accessibility Awareness (GAAD) event for teachers of accessibility. We hope you will join us in celebrating the role of teaching in building accessibility awareness, knowledge, skills, and action.

Thursday, May 20, 2021 from 15:30 – 16:30 BST (10:30 – 11:30 am EST)

Details and registration

Our Accessibility Teachers’ Coffee Hour is a chance for educators from around the world to gather virtually and discuss the unique and rewarding work of teaching accessibility.

The hour-long event will start with a welcome and introduction, followed by breakout groups focused on special interest topics:

  • Challenges of teaching accessibility
  • Values and approaches
  • Strategies for student engagement
  • Teaching and learning tasks and activities

Following the breakout groups we will reconvene for a short report back from groups, and end with a discussion of ways to advance the field of accessibility education.

Event hosts will include members of the Teaching Accessibility research team and accessibility teachers from Teach Access university partners. See the Teach Access website for more details and to register.

Teach Access
University of Southampton

On the 15th April 2021, Sarah Lewthwaite will be presenting to the Sociology of Education stream at the annual British Sociological Association (BSA) Conference. Her paper ‘Dichotomies of disability and ageing in the teaching and discourses of digital accessibility’ draws on ongoing Teaching Accessibility research with expert teachers and considers how and where disability and ageing discourses are intersected in formal and informal accessibility education. The full abstract follows:

Dichotomies of disability and ageing in the teaching and discourses of digital accessibility.

Sarah Lewthwaite and Angharad Butler Rees,
Centre for Research in Inclusion, University of Southampton.

COVID-19 has brought about unprecedented change in our society and the mediating role of technology in everyday life. The pandemic has left many, especially older and disabled people, isolated and reliant on digital platforms and services which are not always accessible. Digital accessibility is a technical discipline within Human Computer Interaction that seeks to make technologies accessible to all. Yet within teaching, disability and ageing are frequently articulated separately. Technical communities recognise a need to consider the ways in which accessibility and inclusive design practices must cater for both groups, yet they are rarely inter-related. This paper considers this discursive divide within accessibility. We broach where there is capacity for these boundaries to be more productively and critically engaged. To elucidate the issues, we draw upon qualitative research with international pedagogic leaders, to ask where older people fit within contemporary discourses of accessibility teaching. This is theorised, in light of the biopolitics of Web accessibility standards, and their pedagogic influence in a context of ‘digital first’ public services, growing regulatory frameworks, compliance culture and litigation in industry. What are the pedagogic roles of such standards, and how do teachers negotiate and answer the subtle hierarchies of impairment and ageing that standards can convey? How can the socio-technical and cultural experiences of disability and ageing be imbricated and realised within this frame, to build a more inclusive digital future? We invite delegates to engage in this dialogue and discussion.

In November, Sarah Lewthwaite presented to the bi-annual UK Cross-Government Accessibility Meetup, talking about ways to build accessibility capacity in teams. In January, Richard Morton (Head of Accessibility, Government Digital Service) and Josie Partridge published a blog about the event – discussing some of the key themes and activities discussed during the day. The next Meetup will be in March 2021.

Join the UK Government’s Accessibility Community group to keep up to date and discover more about the diverse accessibility work taking place across UK government and government agencies.

On Friday, Sarah and Angharad were in conversation with Neil Milliken, Debra Ruh and Antonio Santos on the Teaching Accessibility project ahead of a forthcoming Twitter Chat – #AXSchat – focussed on the teaching of accessibility. The conversation is available via iTunes AXSchat podcast, in your browser via BuzzSprout, or on YouTube as a Subtitled video

We hope that those of you on Twitter will be able to join the conversation tomorrow, Tuesday 11th Feb, 20:00-21:00 GMT / 15:00-16:00 EST. To do so, follow the questions via @AXSchat and tweet using the hashtag #AXSchat.

We’ve set six questions that we hope will instigate a conversation that raises useful reflections, resources, and dialogue for everyone involved in accessibility: 

Q1: How did you first start to learn about #accessibility? What helped you on your learning journey?

Q2: How do you continue to learn about #accessibility? Has this changed over time?

Q3: How can someone starting out get from #accessibility basics to a specialist/expert level? What does it take in terms of support, mentors, time and resources etc?

Q4: How can the lived experiences of disabled people be best drawn upon for #accessibility training and teaching?

Q5: How can current #accessibility teaching and training be developed? What feedback, networks, events and conversations are needed to do this?

Q6: What does excellent #accessibility teaching and training look/feel like? Are some formats (hackathons, sprints, MOOCs etc) better than others? Why?

Inclusive Design 24 (#id24) is a free 24-hour online event for the global community. It celebrates inclusive design and shares knowledge and ideas from analogue to digital, from design to development, from planners to practitioners and everything and everyone inbetween.

Sarah Lewthwaite will be presenting ‘Teaching accessibility: 10 messages from research’ as one of 24 presentations at 14:00 UK time (13:00 UTC) on 10th October 2019.

“This is a talk for everyone who talks about accessibility. People need to know more about accessibility, but it can be challenging to teach. It requires a unique mix of conceptual understanding, technical skill and procedural knowledge. In this talk I will introduce 10 teaching tools – principles and strategies for effective pedagogy – that are drawn from more than a decade of empirical academic research in education. Join me to expand your educational repertoire, so you can more effectively share accessibility with colleagues, teams and wider audiences.”

No sign up or registration is required to follow or participate in sessions. Sessions are streamed live and publically on YouTube. Live captions are available for each session. Videos are available after the event.

This is a fantastic annual event, with a wonderful video back-catalogue that is worth exploring. Do visit the Inclusive Design 24 site to take a look at the full schedule and find out more about how to get involved.

Dr Sarah Lewthwaite will be presenting at a forthcoming Institute of Coding Forum focused on Accessible Curriculum on Monday 30th September.

Event Summary

The new Public sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations 2018 on Websites and Mobile Applications comes into force this month, meaning all publicly funded digital platforms require a statement of accessibility.

  • Is education ready for this?
  • Is the tech talent we are producing skilled up to meet these requirements?

This forum will explore inclusive education and the ‘Accessible Curriculum’ in relation to visible and non-visible disabilities, from two perspectives:

  • Is higher education accessible?
  • Are students learning to develop accessible digital products?

The forum brings educators and employers together to generate advice and case studies.

We aim to both share expert knowledge and inspire and support those who are new to this field, and want to improve the accessibility of their offer.

The day will be full of opportunities to share your own experiences and learn new perspectives on how accessibility can be integrated into the workplace and education.

People should leave the event with more and shared knowledge about the different practice of accessibility and understand the identification of required actions.

Please note that this event is only open to:

  • Teachers, lecturers & education professionals
  • Learning technologists
  • Disability service managers
  • Designers and developers of educational products and services (private & public sector)

To register visit the IoC EventBrite pages.

Monday 23rd September is a milestone date for UK digital accessibility as the first stage of the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Apps) Accessibility Regulations 2018 comes into force. On this date, Sarah Lewthwaite and Abi James will be talking at the 29th London Accessibility Meetup, 18:00-21:00, Sainsbury’s London, to coincide with this.

To register and for full details, visit the London Accessibility Meetup #29 pages. This promises to be an excellent event, and we look forward to seeing you there. Live Streaming and video details will be added when these become available.


Talk 1: Learning and teaching accessibility (Dr Sarah Lewthwaite, University of Southampton)

Digital technologies have revolutionised daily life, yet the capacity for accessible tools and services has not kept pace with demand, resulting in the ongoing exclusion of disabled people and older people. Despite the social cost, new legislation and a trajectory of growing demand for accessible digital services, there is still a lack of detailed understanding of how accessibility can be effectively taught, learned and scaled.

This talk introduces new research into the pedagogy of accessibility – reporting on a systematic literature review of published work in this field. Together we will consider what is known about the teaching and learning of digital accessibility, what makes it distinct and challenging, and how we – as practitioners, trainers, educators, advocates and experts – can work together to build upon this knowledge, to cascade our skills and understanding more effectively to co-workers, colleagues, clients and others.

Talk 2: Digital Accessibility Regulatory Landscape – are you ready? (Abi James, AbilityNet)

Legislation and regulation are an important part of the jigsaw for improving digital accessibility support. Over the past decade, countries have increasingly implemented accessibility requirements into statutory regulations with the EU, UK and Canada all adding new regulations in the past 12 months. September 2019 sees the first date by which UK and EU public sector organisations must ensure new website meet accessibility standards and publish accessibility statements. In this talk, Abi will talk about key requirements of the Public Sector Accessibility Regulations and how organisations are adapting to the requirements to test, comply and roadmap for accessibility standards. She will also look at how increasing regulation could impact the role of accessibility professionals both in public and private sector organisations.

Our Speakers:

Dr Sarah Lewthwaite is a Research Fellow at the University of Southampton and Principle Investigator on the UKRI-funded ‘Teaching Accessibility’ project at the Centre for Research in Inclusion. Sarah and her team are researching the teaching and learning of digital accessibility in universities and the workplace, to build evidence-based understanding of how accessibility can be more effectively taught. The 4-year study received over £650,000 from UKRI, and seeks to forge new collaborations and dialogue between academia and industry. Sarah has a PhD from the Learning Sciences Research Institute (combining Education, Computer Science and Psychology) and research experience and expertise across education, accessibility, HCI and disability studies.


Abi is an accessibility consultant with the assistive technology charity AbilityNet. Motivated by her own experiences of using technology to overcome barriers, she is passionate about communicating the benefits of assistive technology and the need to create a digitally accessible world. Over the past 15 years, she has been involved in projects ranging from developing new assistive technologies, creating training courses and contributing to accessibility standards. Working with the University of Southampton and the British Dyslexia Association, she is also involved in research on accessible technologies and how inclusive policies and organisational culture impacts digital accessibility. She contributes to numerous government forums on digital accessibility policy an is co-chair of the Further and Higher Education Digital Accessibility Working Group set up to organisations implement the Public Sector accessibility regulations.


Research Fellow

Centre for Research in Inclusion,

Location:  Highfield Campus,
Salary:   £32,236,
Full-time or part-time, fixed term (until 30/04/2023),
Closing Date:  Wednesday 10 July 2019,
Interview Date:   Monday 29 July 2019,
Reference:  1148719CJ.

We are currently seeking to recruit an enthusiastic researcher with previous experience of qualitative research to contribute to work on a prestigious UKRI-funded four-year study ‘Teaching Accessibility in the Digital Skill Set’ under the leadership of UKRI Fellow, Dr Sarah Lewthwaite. This interdisciplinary project will explore pedagogical culture and knowledge in relation to the teaching of digital accessibility expertise in computer science and the workplace. This is done to seek practical and theoretical understanding from multiple perspectives. There will be a particular focus on case studies of pedagogical innovation, and on how teachers, trainers and peer-educators develop and make use of available resources.  The deadline for applications is midnight (UTC+01:00) Wednesday 10th July 2019.

Within this role, you will join the Centre for Research in Inclusion, and be contributing to: recruiting participants (computer science and HCI lecturers, teachers and trainers in industry, government and the third sector), working with stakeholders including disabled peoples’ organisations, making practical arrangements, preparing for, conducting and analysing interviews, focus groups based on video-stimulated dialogue, and case studies; as well as writing reports and papers.

You will have an interest in digital accessibility and in teaching and learning, alongside a first degree and PhD* in a relevant social science or related discipline. You will also need to demonstrate experience of conducting qualitative research, including using interview and video. You will also be required to travel in the UK and internationally, outside normal office hours including occasional overnight stays.

This is a full-time post (37 hours per week), that is also available as two part-time roles (at 0.5 FTE). It is available from 2 September 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter, and will run to 30 April 2023 (fixed-term for 3 years, 8 months). 

For full details and information about how to apply, please visit Southampton University’s recruitment page.

Sarah Lewthwaite will be a panellist and presenter at the forthcoming Ed-IT International Network Symposium in Milton Keynes on the 12th June. The Network focuses on Disabled students, ICT, post-compulsory education & employment. Sarah will be speaking about the pedagogy of accessibility education, amongst key names in the field, including David Sloan (The Paciello Group), EA Draffan (University of Southampton) and Sheryl Burgstahler (University of Washington).

For full information about the event, including all speaker presentations please visit the Ed-ICT International Network events page.

The Ed-ICT International network has been funded by the Leverhulme Trust and spans the UK, Canada, US, Germany and the US. It’s aim has been to explore the role that ICTs—including computers, mobile devices, assistive technologies, online learning, and social networking sites—play or could play in creating barriers and mitigating disadvantages that students with disabilities in post-compulsory education experience both generally and specifically in relation to social, emotional and educational outcomes. The network has also examined how practices of educators and other stakeholders can craft successful and supportive relationships between learners with disabilities and ICT. This event is the final symposium, following international events in Seattle, Montreal, Tel Aviv and Hagen.