1st Edition

What Every Engineer Should Know About Digital Accessibility

By Sarah Horton, David Sloan Copyright 2024
    268 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    268 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    Accessibility is a core quality of digital products to be deliberately addressed throughout the development lifecycle. What Every Engineer Should Know About Digital Accessibility will prepare readers to integrate digital accessibility into their engineering practices. Readers will learn how to accurately frame accessibility as an engineering challenge so they are able to address the correct problems in the correct way.

    Illustrated with diverse perspectives from accessibility practitioners and advocates, this book describes how people with disabilities use technology, the nature of accessibility barriers in the digital world, and the role of engineers in breaking down those barriers. Accessibility competence for current, emerging, and future technologies is addressed through a combination of guiding principles, core attributes and requirements, and accessibility‑informed engineering practices.


    • Discusses how technology can support inclusion for people with disabilities and how rigorous engineering processes help create quality user experiences without introducing accessibility barriers
    • Explains foundational principles and guidelines that build core competency in digital accessibility as they are applied across diverse and emerging technology platforms
    • Highlights practical insights into how engineering teams can effectively address accessibility throughout the technology development lifecycle
    • Uses international standards to define and measure accessibility quality

    Written to be accessible to non‑experts in the subject area, What Every Engineer Should Know About Digital Accessibility is aimed at students, professionals, and researchers in the field of software engineering.

    Part 1: Foundations of Accessibility

    1. Introduction to Digital Accessibility

    2. Disability and Digital Inclusion

    3. User Accessibility Needs

    4. Assistive Technology

    5. Core Attributes

    6. Guiding Principles

    7. Accessibility in Practice

    Part 2: Methods for Engineering Digital Accessibility

    8. Requirements Specification

    9. Core Requirements

    10. Design and Development

    11. Testing and Evaluation

    12. Documentation and Support

    13. The Future of Digital Accessibility


    Sarah Horton (she/her) has over 20 years of experience helping organizations create "born accessible" technology. She is an author of books, articles, and papers on designing technology to improve quality of life. She is current UX Strategy and Accessibility Lead at Harvard University, a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Southampton, and an Invited Expert with Teach Access and the W3C’s Accessibility Guidelines Working Group.

    David Sloan (he/him) is Chief Accessibility Officer and UX Practice Manager at TPGi, a specialist digital accessibility services provider, and works with a range of clients to help them create accessible digital user experiences and build accessibility capacity in a sustainable way. He became interested in digital accessibility at the end of the 1990s as a postgraduate researcher at the University of Dundee, focusing on improving technology design for disabled and older people, and earned a PhD on web accessibility in 2006. While at Dundee, he taught classes on human–computer interaction and web design, co‑founded the Digital Media Access Group, one of the world’s first digital accessibility consultancy groups, and drafted the University’s first accessibility policy.

    “The field of digital accessibility continues to grow, and both educators and students are eager to learn more. This is the book I have been looking for that presents topics in an approachable manner that incorporates two equally important pieces: Foundations of Accessibility (Part 1) and Methods for Engineering Digital Accessibility(Part 2). The approachability of the text comes from its use of plain language wherever possible, plus a very predictable structure and layout for each chapter … This is the exact sort of accessible information modeling I would expect from these two well-regarded expert authors. Further, their use of the invited accessibility advocates enhances the reading experience by couching the topics in lived experience – a core tenant of good, accessible design. The authors note this is “written to be accessible to non-experts”, but the layout of topics and depth at which they are explored make this an equally valuable text for digital accessibility experts. As digital accessibility continues to gain traction across all types of industries, we are fortunate to have this text to inform our work in making the world a more accessible and equitable place.”

    —Kate Sonka, Executive Director, Teach Access

    “…provides a thorough, well-rounded exploration of digital accessibility, balancing theoretical depth with practical application. Its structured approach, covering both the "why" and the "how" of digital accessibility, makes it a valuable resource for a wide audience. The focus on user needs, including those of people with temporary or situational impairments, reflects a user-centred design philosophy critical in HCI and UX research. Additionally, the practical guidance in the later chapters ensures that readers can apply what they've learned in real-world scenarios. This book is an essential resource for those looking to deepen their understanding of digital accessibility, from theoretical foundations to practical implementation. Its comprehensive coverage, practical guidance, and forward-looking perspective make it particularly relevant for educators, researchers, and professionals in computing, HCI, and UX.”

    —Michael Crabb, Head of Computing (Discipline), School of Science and Engineering, University of Dundee

    “Synthesised from decades of experience working at the cutting-edge of digital accessibility practice, Horton and Sloan distil the key principles, methodologies and approaches that every engineer needs in their tool kit. What Every Engineer Should Know About Accessibility delivers a perfect balance of conceptual and practical content, for a deep dive, or for reference….[It] also brings in expert voices from the international vanguard of accessibility – advocates, academics and industry leaders. The result is a range of perspectives that highlight the innovation and richness that is at the heart of engineering for accessibility; and the real-world harm that can and does result from digital exclusion. For a product, service, platform or tool to be truly excellent, it must be excellent for everyone. In this ground-breaking book, Horton and Sloan show how this excellence can be engineered for all, with disabled people at the centre.” 

    —Sarah Lewthwaite, Senior Research Fellow & UKRI Future Leaders Fellow, Centre for Research in Inclusion, Southampton Education School, University of Southampton

    “This book does a great job of making industry guidance easy-to-digest for students of design, development, and engineering. The additional information on disability and accessibility needs in chapter 3 stands out by connecting accessibility issues with practical design and development tasks that can directly mitigate such issues. I think putting this knowledge together is very useful for students of design, development, and engineering who may not have firsthand experience or knowledge of how design impacts accessibility issues.”

    —Kristen Shinohara, Associate Professor, School of Information, Rochester Institute of Technology

    “The strengths of this book are the comprehensive knowledge it contains, and the calm and reassuring way that knowledge is presented. As noted in the preface, digital accessibility can be overwhelming, especially when it’s new to someone. This book offers the reader a way to make the accessibility journey, one step at a time.…[It] presents the key themes and concepts of digital accessibility in a way that everyone involved in the production of digital products and services can, and absolutely should, read.”

    —Léonie Watson, Director, TetraLogical