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Teaching Accessibility, Learning Empathy

Cynthia Putnam, Maria Dahman, Emma Rose, Jinghui Cheng and Glenn Bradford

The 17th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility - Posters and Demos (ASSETS 2015)
Lisbon, Portugal, October 26-28, 2015


As information and communication technologies (ICTs) become more diffuse, the diversity of users that designers need to consider is growing; this includes people with disabilities and aging populations. As a result, computing education must provide students the means and inspiration to learn about inclusive design. This poster presents top-level findings from 18 interviews with professors from some of the top universities in the US. Our analysis yielded four categories of findings: (1) important student learning outcomes (the most common was for students to embrace diversity); (2) exercises and teaching materials (almost all focused on inclusion of people with disabilities in discovery and evaluation of ICTs); (3) frustrations and challenges (largely focused on how to engage students in accessibility topics); and (4) the importance of instructor initiative to include the topic of accessibility in their teaching. The unifying theme was the high importance of cultivating empathy with end users.

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