The AccessComputing: Building Capacity for Veterans with Disabilities CBI took place February 10-13, 2009, in Seattle. Its overall purpose was to explore ways to increase the participation and success of veterans with disabilities in computing and information technology postsecondary studies and careers.Participants in this two-and-one-half day event included student services leaders, administrators, and teaching faculty from institutions around the county. Hosted by the UW, the CBI provided a forum for comparing recruitment and access challenges, sharing successful practices, developing collaborations, and identifying systemic change initiatives for increasing the capacity of institutions to serve veterans with disabilities. Specific goals of this CBI were to
- gain information about recruiting, serving, and retaining veterans on postsecondary campuses;
- brainstorm ideas for bridging the gap between computing faculty, disability services faculty, and veterans services;
- share information about best practices for serving veterans, funding opportunities, and resources; and
Speakers and panelists were also CBI participants. Many were either veterans or practitioners with direct experience in serving veterans. Broad issues that were discussed included
- transition from military life to college life,
- recruitment and retention of veterans with disabilities in postsecondary education,
- education funding opportunities and military benefits, and
- transition to employment after postsecondary graduation.
In this CBI
- all participants contributed to its success;
- experts in all topic areas were in the audience and others visited via telephone and video conferencing technologies; and
- although some predetermined professional development was presented, new content was delivered as the meeting unfolded and participant interests were expressed and expertise was made known.
The CBI was comprised of panel and individual presentations and working group discussions. Panel discussions offered participants opportunities to discover new ways for various veteran and campus disability services to collaborate to improve veterans' postsecondary experience. Individual presentations included information on the new G.I. Bill, computing and IT career opportunities for veterans, as well as best practices for institutions serving veterans with disabilities. Working group discussions allowed participants time to gather in small groups and discuss the following questions:
- What are the anticipated effects of the new G.I. Bill on our campuses? What are the characteristics of veterans returning to school?
- How can disability support services and computing faculty work together to effectively support veterans with disabilities?
- What types of services and supports can postsecondary institutions enhance or develop in anticipation of the needs of veterans with disabilities?
- How can schools partner with military bases and veterans organizations to improve the recruitment and support of veterans with disabilities into computing departments?
The agenda for the CBI, summaries of the presentations and panels, and reports from the working group discussions are provided on the following pages.