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Microsoft, Facebook, and others want to make accessibility a bigger priority

Some of the world's biggest technology companies want the app makers of tomorrow to put a much bigger focus on accessibility. "Students in fields such as design, computer sciences and human computer interaction must be better prepared to enter the workforce and create future technologies that are truly inclusive," reads the mission statement of Teaching Accessibility, a new working group that includes Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Dropbox, AT&T, Adobe, LinkedIn, and a handful of education partners like Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, and Georgia Tech. The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is also part of the effort. "Accessibility must become mainstream," the group says. "Only then will technology reach its true potential for connecting and enabling everyone in the world."

Teaching Accessibility was formed with a goal of creating "models for teaching and training students of technology to create accessible experiences." Higher education is Teaching Accessibility's primary focus; participating companies will push to make accessibility and universal design principles a major component of courses taken by computer scientists, designers, and researchers. Microsoft also says industry job descriptions should establish a clear preference for those with accessibility knowledge. As VentureBeat notes, Teaching Accessibility's formation comes just as the Americans with Disabilities Act turns 25. Other companies including Google, IBM, and Apple are also striving to be more inclusive with their products and technologies.