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.


  • ARTennis attempts to help low vision players

    December 16, 2023 People with low vision (LV) have had fewer options for physical activity, particularly in competitive sports such as tennis and soccer that involve fast, continuously moving elements such as balls and players. A group of researchers from CREATE associate director Jon E. Froehlich's Makeability Lab hopes to overcome this challenge by enabling…

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  • UW News: How an assistive-feeding robot went from picking up fruit salads to whole meals

    November, 2023 Training a robot to feed people presents an array of challenges for researchers. Foods come in a nearly endless variety of shapes and states (liquid, solid, gelatinous), and each person has a unique set of needs and preferences. A team led by CREATE Ph.D. students Ethan K. Gordon and Amal Nanavati created a…

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  • Off to the Park: A Geospatial Investigation of Adapted Ride-on Car Usage

    November 7, 2023 Adapted ride-on cars (ROC) are an affordable, power mobility training tool for young children with disabilities. But weather and adequate drive space create barriers to families' adoption of their ROC.  CREATE Ph.D. student Mia E. Hoffman is the lead author on a paper that investigates the relationship between the built environment and…

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  • UW News: Can AI help boost accessibility? CREATE researchers tested it for themselves

    November 2, 2023 | UW News Generative artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT, an AI-powered language tool, and Midjourney, an AI-powered image generator, can potentially assist people with various disabilities. They could summarize content, compose messages, or describe images. Yet they also regularly spout inaccuracies and fail at basic reasoning, perpetuating ableist biases. This year, seven CREATE researchers conducted…

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  • UW News: A11yBoard accessible presentation software

    October 30, 2023 | UW News A team led by CREATE researchers has created A11yBoard for Google Slides, a browser extension and phone or tablet app that allows blind users to navigate through complex slide layouts, objects, images, and text. Here, a user demonstrates the touchscreen interface. Team members Zhuohao (Jerry) Zhang, Jacob O. Wobbrock,…

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