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.


RESEARCH NEWS


  • 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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  • A Ph.D. Student's Promising Research in Mobility in Cerebral Palsy

    Researcher Alyssa Spomer uses a tablet to monitor a man wearing a robotic exoskeleton device around his hips and legs and walking on a treadmill.

    Whether she’s researching how biofeedback systems can guide gait training in children with cerebral palsy or leading toy adaptation events, Alyssa Spomer is committed to advancing accessible technology. A Ph.D. student in UW Mechanical Engineering (ME) and advised by CREATE Associate Director Kat Steele, Spomer is the student chair of CREATE-sponsored HuskyADAPT. Her studies have been multidisciplinary,…

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  • Large-Scale Analysis Finds Many Mobile Apps Are Inaccessible

    iStockPhoto image of several generic application icons such as weather, books, music, etc.

    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. Any person who uses an assistive technology can describe negative experiences with apps that…

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  • CREATE + I-LABS: focus on access, mobility, and the brain

    Toddler laughing and playing in a riding toy car adapted by Go Baby Go Seattle

    A new research and innovation partnership between CREATE and the UW Institute of Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS) focuses on access, mobility, and the brain, especially how early experiences with mobility technology impact brain development and learning outcomes.

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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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