The National Science Foundation (NSF) has funded a new institute at the UW to promote the participation of people with disabilities in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
The grant of $170,000 will support the new AccessSTEM Capacity-Building Institute, the lead agency for which will be the UW’s Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology (DO-IT) Center — which itself is a collaboration among the colleges of Education, Engineering, Computer Science and UW Computing & Communications.
AccessSTEM, according to its Web site, is a “space where K-12 teachers, postsecondary educators, and employers learn to make classroom and employment opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) accessible to individuals with disabilities.” The group promotes design, accommodation strategies, rights and resources for people with disabilities.
The UW will join New Mexico State University, the University of Southern Maine and the University of Wisconsin, all of whom have similar regional alliances with an AccessSTEM Capacity-Building Institute. All work to increase the representation of individuals with disabilities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.
The institute also will host other NSF-funded projects that serve to broaden the participation of women and racial/ethnic minorities in those areas. It will provide a forum for people to compare access challenges and successful practices and develop collaborations to help serve students who are part of under-represented groups.
The institute will conduct a conference January 10-12, 2007, in Seattle, and offer information gathered there to the existing AccessSTEM “knowledge base” through presentation online at http://www.washington.edu/doit/Stem/kb.html. The knowledge base is an ongoing function that answers common questions and otherwise helps precollege and college educators increase access for people with disabilities.
By increasing collaborations among programs that serve under-represented groups, the Capacity-Building Institute hopes to broaden the participation in science, technology and math of students with disabilities as well as women and racial and ethnic minorities.