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Seminar: Mobile Application Accessibility for the Disabled

Anne Ross

PhD Candidate and National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow, University of Washington

Thursday, January 7, 2021
12:00pm - 1:00pm
Zoom Only

Anne Ross


Mobile applications can be inaccessible for people who have disabilities or use assistive technologies. Many efforts to improve app accessibility focus on the role of developers in making their own apps accessible. While this component is important, a larger ecosystem of factors can influence app accessibility on a population scale (e.g., code libraries, company policy).

To structure this expanded view on app accessibility, I created a conceptual framework inspired by epidemiology. Epidemiology is the study of disease in a population. My epidemiology-inspired framework poses app accessibility barriers as “diseases” in a “population” of apps. This perspective highlights the value of studying accessibility from a population perspective within the context of an ecosystem of influential factors. 

I will discuss my work on understanding apps by (1) characterizing app accessibility at a population level, and (2) identifying factors that may impact the accessibility of many apps. I will also discuss my work improving app accessibility through (1) techniques for supporting developers in creating accessible apps, (2) tools for professional accessibility testers, and .(1) third-party repair techniques. I situate my work within my epidemiology-inspired framework to demonstrate the value of approaching app accessibility through a large-scale, multi-factor lens.


Anne Spencer Ross is a PhD Candidate and National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow in Computer Science at the University of Washington. She is passionate about removing barriers people with disabilities face when using and creating technology. Her work exploring mobile app accessibility has been published in top-tier venues including the CHI and ASSETS conferences, and the TACCESS journal; receiving multiple Best Paper nominations.

Anne has put her expertise into practice with industry colleges at Microsoft Research and Google, including making substantial contributions to Google's open-source Accessibility Test Framework for Android and Microsoft’s Soundscape app. She is also an active member of organizations working to make academia more accessible including AccessSIGCHI and SIGACCESS.