Research Team Led by ATS Staff Wins Best Paper Award

Wednesday, March 20, 2024
Terrill Thompson and Jared Smith on stage

A team of researchers led by Terrill Thompson, manager of the IT Accessibility Team within UW-IT Accessible Technology Services (ATS), has published a research paper titled "Predictors of Postsecondary Web Accessibility, 2012 to 2022" in the CSUN Journal on Technology & Persons with Disabilities. Their paper was selected as this year's winner of the Dr. Arthur Karshmer Award for Assistive Technology Research, a prestigious award given annually at the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference.  Thompson's co-authors on the paper include Dan Comden and Sheryl Burgstahler, both of whom recently retired from UW-IT after 75 years of collective service. Additional co-authors include Scott Ferguson (Access Technology Support Lead),  Dustine Bowker (third year student in UW School of Law and a student employee in the DO-IT Center), Jared Smith (Director of WebAIM at Utah State University), and Liz Moore (a former UW research scientist and statistician, now working as an independent research consultant).

The paper reports on findings from data collected ten years apart (in 2012 and 2022) to determine whether and how web accessibility has changed over time in U.S. higher education institutions. The study also explored which of a wide variety of independent variables are the best predictors of web accessibility in higher education institutions.  Independent variables included hundreds of variables about institution size, focus, and funding; data collected from an analysis of institutions' digital accessibility policies; the presence of accessibility links in website templates; whether institutions had resolved digital accessibility discrimination complaints with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights; and whether institutions had been the recipient of lawsuits related to digital access.

Thompson and Smith accepted the award on behalf of the team during the keynote session at the CSUN Conference in Anaheim on March 19.