The Accessibility Playbook for Emerging Technology Initiatives
In 2020, PEAT published the Accessibility Playbook for Emerging Technology Initiatives. The Playbook is a blueprint for anyone seeking to launch a successful initiative to develop emerging technologies that are accessible to and inclusive of people with disabilities. The recommendations in the Playbook are based on best practices and lessons learned from Teach Access and XR Access, both with differing approaches to leading a successful initiative. PEAT played a leading role in developing these communities and has drawn from the collective knowledge of their leaders and participants to create the Playbook and the following Teach Access Case Study.
Teach Access: A Case Study
Teach Access was launched in 2015 to address the critical need of including digital accessibility in the technology curricula for students at the college and university level. The steps taken by education, industry, and disability advocacy organizations to launch and sustain Teach Access helped inform the creation of the Playbook. This case study provides an in-depth look at these steps and outlines how the Teach Access Initiative is evolving and laying the groundwork for its next phase of maturity.
Teach Access is focused on increasing knowledge of digital accessibility in all types of technology. For the purposes of this case study, we will focus on the Initiative’s efforts to educate students—including those enrolled in programs involving computer science, product and graphic design, engineering, web development, user experience research and design, and human-computer interaction (HCI) —on how to create accessible emerging technologies. These emerging tools include virtual, augmented, and mixed reality technology (collectively known as XR), artificial intelligence, 5G, and more.
 XR Access is an initiative focused on making virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (XR) accessible to people with disabilities. Virtual reality (VR) is a form of technology allowing a user to immerse themselves in a completely virtual world that blocks the real world from view; augmented reality (AR) is a form of technology that overlays digital images onto the real world, augmenting it with virtual objects; mixed reality (MR) is a form of technology that fuses elements of VR and AR, but takes the immersive experience a step further allowing users to manipulate virtual objects in a real-world setting; Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the use of computer systems to perform tasks that traditionally require human intelligence; 5G refers to the fifth generation of mobile networks. It’s designed to provide a faster and more responsive network to connect people with technology.