Tangible Progress: Tools, Techniques, and Impacts of Teaching Web Development to Screen Reader Users

Claire Kearney-Volpe, Chancey Fleet, Keita Ohshiro, Veronica Alfaro Arias, Eric Hao Xu, Amy Hurst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite a growing demand for Web Development and adjacent tech skills, there is a lack of accessible skills training for screen reader users. To address this gap, we developed tools and techniques to support screen reader users in learning web development. In this article, we describe our design, implementation, and evaluation of a nine-week web development workshop, designed to introduce screen reader users to HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. We taught the remote workshop using synchronous lectures followed by one-on-one time with Teaching Assistants (TAs) and included a resource-rich website, tactile diagrams, and discussion forum. We evaluated the effectiveness of our tools and the impact of the workshop during, immediately following, and one year after the workshop. At its conclusion, students demonstrated their knowledge of web development basics by creating and publishing their own websites; showed an increase in self-efficacy; and maintained a high level of interest in the subject. Participation also benefited TAs who reported increased confidence in understanding accessibility concepts, increased interest in pursuing work related to accessibility, and plans to apply what they learned. One year after the workshop, both students and TAs reported a lasting impact. Most notably, students had applied their understanding of design concepts, reported that the workshop helped them prepare for career changes or helped them in their current job functions, and that it gave them both the language and confidence to problem-solve web and accessibility issues. TAs felt that the workshop broadened their understanding of blind students' abilities; especially when provided with accessible materials and tools, it gave them a better understanding of digital accessibility and assistive technologies, and they shared examples of how they continue to apply learnings and advocate for accessibility. Based on these findings, we recommend techniques and tools to support screen reader users' learning web development, the inclusion of job-focused sub-topics, and suggestions for engaging with post-secondary institutions to pair service learning with tech skills training. We close with recommendations for implementing and adapting the workshop using our open-educational materials to expand the availability and breadth of accessible tech skills training and co-learning experiences for post-secondary students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3585315
JournalACM Transactions on Accessible Computing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 28 2023


  • Accessibility
  • accessible web design
  • accessible web development
  • blind programmers
  • human-centered computing
  • screen reader

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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