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.


The purpose of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, or GAAD, is to raise awareness about digital accessibility and disability inclusion. For this year’s event, on May 20th, the Teaching Accessibility research team partnered with the US-based initiative Teach Access to host an international coffee hour, bringing together educators from around the world to discuss the unique and rewarding work of teaching accessibility.

Our Accessibility Teachers’ Coffee Hour guests came from 16 universities and colleges, in the UK, Ireland, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Australia, and the US. They provided viewpoints of both aspiring and experienced accessibility educators, teaching accessibility topics in education, design, and engineering courses and providing outreach, support, and mentoring.

We started the event with a plenary session and then split into four breakout sessions to discuss the following topics:

  • The challenges of teaching accessibility
  • Our values and approaches
  • Strategies for student engagement
  • Teaching and learning tasks and activities

We reconvened for reports back from the groups and wrapped up with a discussion of ways forward for accessibility education.

Several important themes emerged from the sessions. 

The values discussion led to clarity around the societal imperative to teach accessibility, because digital accessibility is key to disability rights and disability inclusion and enabling everyone to contribute to society.

Challenges inherent in teaching accessibility include complexity and scope, and the tension between covering complex, multi-faceted accessibility topics in an already overloaded curriculum. Deficiencies include a lack of awareness and understanding, since students and teachers are unfamiliar with disability and how people with disabilities use technology, and a lack of visibility and urgency, as the need for accessibility skills is not visible and prioritized.

Educators overcome these challenges using various strategies, tasks, and activities. They seek out ways to embed accessibility into culture and practice, both at a strategic level, making accessibility a core value, and at a practical level, weaving accessibility into courses and activities. They find ways to engage diverse perspectives through activities like user research with people with disabilities and projects aimed at addressing accessibility needs. And they show the career impact of accessibility knowledge and skills through role modeling and mentoring with accessibility professionals.

Participants contributed to lively discussions and shared resources, including the growing Universal Design into University Curriculum (UDUC) repository of accessibility teaching resources at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the MOOCs for Accessibility Partnership (MOOCAP) Open Educational Resources, developed by an EU partnership of eight European universities.

We look forward to continuing our discussions with accessibility teachers worldwide and sharing resources to enhance accessibility education. Please subscribe to our newsletter for announcements of future events and project updates. You can also subscribe to updates from Teach Access by completing their Contact Us form.

Teach Access
University of Southampton

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