Teach Access is a new, unique collaboration among members of Higher Education, the Technology Industry and advocates for Accessibility.
The goals of Teach Access are to make technology accessible and to make accessible technology ubiquitous. The four primary objectives of the program are:
To ensure that the principles of accessibility and universal design are included in the curricula of computer science students, designers and researchers in undergraduate and graduate schools as well as in continuing education courses.
To expand the study of accessible technology development in higher education.
To build online learning tools that will teach accessibility best practices and to make these tools widely available to individuals, companies and organizations at no cost.
To modify corporate hiring practices such that (a) standard job descriptions will include a preference for accessibility knowledge and experience, and (b) recruitment activities will include a focus on accessibility.
Today, education about accessible design and development, where it exists, is producing a very limited number of domain experts. While these experts drive innovation toward the goal of making all technology accessible to everyone, Industry requires even those who are not expert to have a working knowledge of the basics of Accessibility. The Teach Access initiative was created to respond to this pressing need. Incorporating accessibility during product concept and development (and not just immediately prior to a product launch) requires well-trained developers who grasp at least the basic concepts of alternate input, output and navigation modalities.
Teach Access was conceived by the Accessibility teams at Yahoo and Facebook and quickly became a reality when the program was adopted by the other founding members — the leading exemplars of accessible products in the tech industry, — and with strong encouragement of advocates within the disability community.
Teach Access is made up of members from leading technology companies, universities and advocacy groups including Yahoo, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Adobe, PayPal, Intuit, LinkedIn, AT&T, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, RIT, Georgia Tech, University of Washington, AAPD, Deque, and the Paciello Group. The group is growing and the complete list can be found on our Supporters & Contributors page.
With our focus on making important advances and changes in how technology is taught, we don’t have a membership model for student or individual membership – our efforts are targeting the leadership of our collaborating organizations and other change agents at universities and corporations.
But we would be happy to add you to our public mailing list for updates. Just contact us to request that we add you to the list. And keep watching our website, Facebook page and Twitter feed for news and other ways you can support our mission.
Both. Teach Access can only reach its goal through collaboration between Industry and Education with the active participation of Accessibility Advocates. For example, Higher Education trains, educates and continually adapts its curricula to the needs of industry. Industry communicates the skills it needs, promotes employment opportunities for graduates, and works collaboratively with Higher Education to develop appropriate curricula. Accessibility Advocates provide essential input into user requirements, advise on Accessibility policy, and actively communicate opportunities and advancements to its constituents.
In essence, it’s a calculation based on demand and supply. As industry demands accessibility skills from its workforce, education consumers demand accessibility training, so they have marketable skills when entering the workforce. With demand for accessibility skills on the rise, education must respond by providing more opportunities for learners to build accessibility skills and knowledge. When this happens, accessibility advocates and experts are there to help education build effective programs.
Technology development is moving faster than ever before. For example, there are now tens of thousands of development teams around the world creating millions of mobile apps. Similar scale is expected for emerging technologies such as wearables, sensors, and more. It is no longer possible for a small cohort of Accessibility experts to be available to each team or to keep up with the unprecedented pace of technology development. At the same time, new technology products are becoming increasingly integral to our ability to work and to conduct our social lives. As a result, making these products accessible is all the more important — and expected. When one considers that legislation in many countries now mandates accessibility for a variety of technologies, the lack of developers with appropriate skills becomes apparent. The need is truly urgent.
Only a small number of introductory and advanced degree programs provide substantive Accessibility education, and as a result the number of graduates in this area is extremely limited. Teach Access applauds these programs and seeks to expand the number of graduates with these skills by incorporating the fundamentals of Accessibility into “non-expert” undergraduate curricula for programmers, designers, and product managers.
No. Teach Access considers Accessibility fundamentals to be vital in the technology curricula of all post-secondary teaching institutions as well as informal and online education. Efforts are even being made to introduce the concepts to high school age students.
Advocacy groups play an important role in Teach Access by providing input and feedback into proposed training curricula, while at the same time recommending policy, providing accessibility expertise, and communicating opportunities for their constituents.
Initially, Teach Access is focused on North America but the program expects to grow and attract members from around the world.
No. Members only need to commit to the mission, goals, and objectives of the program. Future efforts to raise funds for Challenge Grants are being considered, as are regular contributions to develop new initiatives.