In June, Accessibility in IT hosted a fireside chat “Teaching Accessibility and Accessibly - Why Not Both?” featuring guest speaker Kate Sonka, Executive Director of Teach Access. Teach Access aims to make the fundamentals of digital accessibility, including design principles and best practices, an integrated part of undergraduate education through partnerships with educational institutions, the technology industry, and advocates for people with disabilities.
Steve Gallagher, Stanford University’s chief information officer, kicked off the event by sharing the significance of digital accessibility and the efforts in the Stanford community to promote this work.
“Digital accessibility is foundational to inclusion,” he said. “Thinking through digital accessibility from the very get-go often leads to more elegant products, better services, and a better user experience. This is why it’s so important that we think about this, not as an afterthought, not as overhead, but from the genesis of how we develop websites and products.”
The discussion was led by Sean Keegan, director of Stanford’s Office of Digital Accessibility, who dove into the need to teach accessibility, and more specifically the skills and principles of accessible design and development. He noted students in fields such as graphic design, computer science, human-computer interaction, and more should be better prepared when entering the workforce to create technologies, products, processes, and environments that are inclusive.
“What we’re creating is a large group of students who are going out into the workforce who know just a little bit about these topics. They know what disability is, they know what accessibility is, and they know where to find more information on these topics,” Sonka explained.
Sonka and Keegan solicited questions from the audience regarding best practices for media creators to make accessible media, technical tools used for testing accessibility for web applications, the impact AI tools will have on the ability to create accessible products from the beginning, and more.
Sonka shared how she benefits from subscribing to content creators with disabilities on social media. Seeing how these creators put content together and learning the tips they often share can help others create accessible media of their own.
Learn more and get involved
View resources from “Teaching Accessibility and Accessibly - Why Not Both?” here:
Accessibility in IT is a growing program. If you would like to get involved, please reach out to the Accessibility in IT working group at email@example.com.