Communities of Practice

The DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) Center at the University of Washington (UW) lead the AccessSTEM Alliance to increase the participation of people with disabilities in academic programs and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). AccessSTEM outcomes will benefit society by making STEM opportunities available to more citizens and enhancing these fields with the talents and perspectives of people with disabilities.

Among the strategies for meeting these objectives are Communities of Practice (CoPs) for stakeholder groups. Communicating using email and other electronic tools, CoPs share perspectives and expertise and identify practices that promote the participation of people with disabilities in STEM fields.

You and your colleagues can join one of the CoPs listed below by indicating which of the CoPs you would like to join and sending the following information to doit@uw.edu:

  • Name
  • Position/Title
  • Institution
  • Postal Address
  • Email Address

Broadening Participation CoP is populated with collaborators who administer alliances and projects that serve to broaden participation in STEM fields. Members

  • discuss how to recruit participants with disabilities and accommodate them in their programs and activities and to, overall, make their offerings more accessible;
  • recruit their participants with disabilities into Alliance e-mentoring, internships, academies, and workshops to complement their activities;
  • identify, recruit, and accommodate eligible Alliance participants;
  • co-sponsor events and discuss potential new projects and share funding possibilities;
  • disseminate Alliance information and information about their projects and results through the Knowledge Base; and
  • help plan and recruit participants for Capacity-Building Institutes.

Disability Services CoP is comprised of disability service professionals from community/technical colleges, 4-year colleges, and universities nationwide, together with their networks of postsecondary and K-12 schools (e.g., affiliates of AHEAD) and parent groups (e.g., affiliates of PACER). Members of this CoP,

  • recruit high school and college students with disabilities for Alliance academies and workshops, e-mentoring communities, internships, and other activities;
  • deliver presentations to STEM faculty in order to share information about accommodations and campus services for students with disabilities;
  • work with STEM educators and administrators to invite students with disabilities to career fairs, STEM lectures, and other events; work with groups to make sure activities are accessible; and help bring speakers with disabilities and exhibits that focus on disability-related topics;
  • develop transition and bridge workshops in STEM and/or help other Community of Practice members develop such activities;
  • help plan, and recruit participants for Capacity-Building Institutes; and
  • provide content for DO-IT's searchable Knowledge Base.

Industry and Career Services CoP is populated with employers and career services staff, including those at postsecondary institutions and career organizations. The focus of the CoP is to increase the opportunities and success of people with disabilities in internships and careers, especially those in STEM fields.

RDE CoP is comprised of representatives from projects, like AccessSTEM, that are funded by the Research in Disabilities Education (RDE) program of the NSF. Participants share ideas for collaborations between projects, particularly those that disseminate project results through

  • conference exhibits,
  • joint publications,
  • presentations,
  • published articles,
  • videos, and
  • websites.

STEMed CoP is populated with STEM K-12 and postsecondary educators and administrators interested in promoting the success of students with disabilities in STEM courses and careers. Participants

  • gain and share knowledge and help identify issues related to the under-representation of people with disabilities in STEM fields;
  • introduce Alliance staff to administrators of professional STEM organizations so that staff can help these organizations make their websites accessible, their conferences accessible to attendees with disabilities, and their conference programs inclusive of disability-related topics;
  • help plan, attend and/or recruit others to attend Capacity-Building Institutes;
  • identify STEM events to which students with disabilities might be invited;
  • discuss how to include accessibility topics in STEM curricula;
  • provide connections with STEM faculty and industry for internships; and
  • help Alliance staff target articles to STEM publications.