Shawn is WAI Outreach Coordinator, Chair of the WAI Education and Outreach Working Group (EOWG), and Chair of the WAI Interest Group (IG). She holds a research appointment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). In these roles, Shawn:
- promotes awareness of web accessibility issues;
- develops online materials to support understanding and implementing web accessibility guidelines;
- provides presentations and training on accessible web design, development, and management;
- encourages cooperation among industry, researchers, educators, government, and people with disabilities to develop and implement accessibility solutions.
Shawn focuses her personal passion for accessibility on bringing together the needs of individuals and the goals of organizations in designing human-computer interfaces. She developed uiAccess.com to share information on universal user interface design and "usable accessibility", and particularly enjoys introducing and encouraging accessible user experience, that is, how people with disabilities interact with technology.
Shawn is currently working on a project to better understand and communicate users' needs to customize text for readability. People with low vision, dyslexia, and related conditions that impact reading — including older people — need to be able to customize several aspects of text: size, colour, leading, linearization/reflow, and more. TAdER Project: Text Adaptability is Essential for Reading
Prior to joining W3C in February 2003, Shawn worked as a consultant with research centers, education providers, government agencies, non-profit organizations, Fortune 500 companies, and international standards organizations to develop and implement strategies to optimize design for usability and accessibility. In addition to volunteering as an invited expert in the WAI Education and Outreach Working Group, she served as Advisory Committee member for the Trace Research and Development Center, the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Access to Information Technology funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research; member of HFES/HCI 200, the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Technical Standards Committee developing software interface standards for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI); and contributor to International Organization for Standardization (ISO) work on accessibility standards. Shawn is an Executive Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.
Shawn has presented and published papers on accessibility and usability for Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES), Computer-Human Interaction (CHI), and Usability Professionals' Association (UPA) conferences, as well as web design and development conferences. Her publications include:
- Accessibility books Just Ask: Integrating Accessibility Throughout Design (2007), Accessibility in the User-Centered Design Process (2004)
- "Understanding Web Accessibility" chapter in Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance (2006) and Constructing Accessible Web Sites (2002)
- "Everyone Interfaces" chapter in User Interfaces for All (2000)
- "Older Users Online" in User Experience (2009).
- Online resources on web accessibility.
Complete lists of publications, presentations, and more is available from About Shawn.
Shawn holds a BSc in English with focus on technical writing and computer science, and an MSc in Digital Inclusion.