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.

  • 41 papers on accessible technology published by CREATE founders and students, 18 (44%) of which directly used CREATE support.
  • 4 career-level awards went to CREATE founders: AAAS Fellow (Ladner), ACM Fellow (Wobbrock), ASSETS 10-year lasting impact award (Mankoff), and ACM SIGCHI Social Impact Award (Mankoff).

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

Early Access and the Brain

How do early experiences with mobility technology impact brain development and learning outcomes? CREATE is partnering with UW I-LABS to answer this and other questions. This joint work will demonstrate that early access to mobility technology is a critical asset for development and learning and 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.

Ongoing collaborations with Go Baby Go and HuskyAdapt are providing early childhood access to accessibility tools.

More about Early Access and the Brain Research at CREATE

Mobility, Indoors and Outdoors

Mobility is a precursor to community living and engagement and is a critical equity issue. Project Sidewalk, which uses deep learning and crowdsourcing to identify inaccessible sidewalks, and Open Sidewalks, which collects the data to provide routing directions to pedestrians personalized to their unique disability needs, are deployed in cities around the world, and have directly impacted not only pedestrians but also city governments and policies. 

20 cities engaged in improving pedestrian access

1 million labels for sidewalks provided by users 

More than 10 mapathons in the past year

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.

Collected at scale accessibility data from 312 apps over 16 months

Conducted qualitative accessibility evaluation of 30 popular Android educational games

100,000 downloads of the Pointing Magnifier, a desktop pointing aid that makes the mouse easier to use for people with limited fine motor function

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; and development of a blocks-based language accessible to students with disabilities. A recent CREATE seminar focused on the intersection of race and disability, which has led to a new initiative, Race, Disability & Technology.


  • User-informed, robot-assisted social dining for people with motor impairments

    June 1, 2023 A team of Allen School robotics researchers has published a paper on the finer aspects of robot-assisted dining with friends. "A meal should be memorable, and not for a potential faux pas from the machine," notes co-author Patrícia Alves-Oliveira. Supported by a CREATE Student minigrant and in the spirit of "nothing about us without us," they are working with the Tyler Schrenk Foundation to…

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  • Rethinking Disability and Advancing Access

    UW CREATE collaborates toward a world with fewer problems and more solutions for people of all abilities. The UW College of Engineering showcased CREATE’s mission, moonshots, and collaborative successes in a feature article, Rethinking disability and advancing access, written by Alice Skipton. The article is reproduced and reformatted here. CREATE researchers and partners work on high-impact…

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  • A11yBoard Seeks to Make Digital Artboards Accessible to Blind and Low-Vision Users

    Just about everybody in business, education, and artistic settings needs to use presentation software like Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Slides, and Adobe Illustrator. These tools use artboards to hold objects such as text, shapes, images, and diagrams. But for blind and low vision (BLV) people, using such software adds a new level of challenge beyond keeping…

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  • Postdoc Research Spotlight: Making Biosignal Interfaces Accessible

    The machines and devices we use every day – for example, touch screens, gas pedals, and computer track pads – interpret our actions and intentions via sensors. But these sensors are designed based on assumptions about our height, strength, dexterity, and abilities. When they aim for the average person (who does not actually exist), they…

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  • UnlockedMaps provides real-time accessibility info for rail transit users

    screenshot of UnlockedMaps in New York. Stations that are labeled green are accessible while stations that are labeled orange are not accessible. Yellow stations have elevator outages reported.

    Congratulations to CREATE Ph.D. student Ather Sharif, Orson (Xuhai) Xu, and team for this great project on transit access! Together they developed UnlockedMaps, a web-based map that allows users to see in real time how accessible rail transit stations are in six metro areas including Seattle, Philadelphia (where the project was first conceived by Sharif and a friend…

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