CREATE faculty, students and partners collaborate on exciting breakthroughs in accessible technology—advancing the inclusion and participation for people with disabilities. We focus on enabling people with disabilities to be part of the creation process, giving people with disabilities the education, voice, inspiration and opportunity to enter and move through their education and into professional settings.

CREATE faculty bring multiple perspectives including technology design and engineering, and also disability rights and advocacy. Some of CREATE’s research emphasizes:

Equitable environments

The built environment is not always built for everyone. High-detail crowdsourced navigation systems, such as Project Sidewalk and Open Sidewalks, convey the accessibility of sidewalks, entrances, interior spaces and public transit for people with mobility and sensory impairments. 

Early Accessibility and the Brain

How do early experiences with mobility technology impact brain development and learning outcomes? CREATE is partnering with the UW Institute of Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS) to answer this and other questions. Our joint work will demonstrate that early access to mobility technology is a critical asset for development and learning, rather than a last resort for remediation or accommodation. This work also contributes to CREATE’s goal of understanding and addressing historical perceptions of disability and assistive technology, which often serve to perpetuate exclusion despite legislation protecting individuals’ rights to mobility and technology.

Mobile Device Accessibility

Mobile apps have become a key feature of everyday life, with apps for banking, work, entertainment, communication, transportation, and education, to name a few. But many apps remain inaccessible to people with disabilities who use screen readers or other assistive technologies. CREATE is working to support automated diagnosis and repair of mobile app accessibility failures for all mobile apps. CREATE faculty are also exploring other aspects of mobile app accessibility, such as creating better touch screens based on how people with disabilities actually interact.

Access, Equity and Inclusion

CREATE’s work includes efforts to improve data equity. Examples include our commentary on disability bias in biometrics; work on data visualization access during COVID; development of a blocks-based language accessible to students with disabilities; and the recent CREATE seminar focused on the intersection of race and disability.


  • Community Day 2022 Wrap-up

    CREATE’s 2nd Annual Community Day took place on June 8th and was a tremendous success. With over 100 registered participants and presenters, this year’s event demonstrates strong growth, returning to in-person (and also virtual) panel discussions and a research showcase of 14 project teams. This year’s panels addressed the disproportionate impact of access to assistive…

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  • Ga11y improves accessibility of automated GIFs for visually impaired users

    Animated GIFs, prevalent in social media, texting platforms and websites, often lack adequate alt-text descriptions, resulting in inaccessible GIFs for blind or low-vision (BLV) users and the loss of meaning, context, and nuance in what they read. In an article published in the Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI…

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  • Wobbrock team's VoxLens allows screen-reader users to interact with data visualizations

    Working with screen-reader users, CREATE graduate student Ather Sharif and Co-Director Jacob O. Wobbrock, along with other UW researchers, have designed VoxLens, a JavaScript plugin that allows people to interact with visualizations. To implement VoxLens, visualization designers add just one line of code. Millions of Americans use screen readers for a variety of reasons, including…

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  • Findlater and co-authors receive 2020 Best Paper award for study of Voice Assistants by Older Adults

    The Association for Computing Machinery announced the 2020 Best Paper Award goes to Use of Intelligent Voice Assistants by Older Adults with Low Technology Use, co-authored by CREATE associate director Leah Findlater, Alisha Pradhan and Amanda Lazar. The team conducted a 3-week field deployment of the Amazon Echo Dot in the homes of seven older adults to understand…

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  • Feldner and Steele's 'Reimagining Mobility' series featured in The Daily

    Collaboration and diverse perspectives and approaches are at the heart of CREATE's mission to make technology accessible and make the world accessible though technology. One program developed by CREATE faculty looks at mobility solutions and ways to eliminate barriers. Hosted by CREATE associate directors Kat Steele and Heather Feldner, the Reimagining Mobility Conversation Hub brings…

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