Terry Thompson giving a presentationUniversal Design in Academia: A Capacity Building Institute took place April 11, 2012 in Auburn, Alabama. Its overall purpose was to bring together a select group of national experts to help Auburn University faculty and staff reduce barriers and optimize levels of challenge and support to meet the needs of all learners. Taking place at an AccessComputing institutional partner, attendees included faculty, staff, and graduate students. In addition, speakers included an AccessComputing project staff member and an AccessComputing student team member from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Participants in this one-day event included student services leaders, administrators, and teaching faculty from Auburn University as well as guest speakers who presented on relevant topics. Sponsored by the University of Washington AccessComputing project, the CBI provided a forum for discussing recruitment and access challenges, sharing successful practices, developing collaborations, and identifying systemic change initiatives for increasing the capacity of Auburn to serve students with disabilities. Specific goals of this CBI were to:

  • gain information about recruiting, serving, and retaining students, including veterans, with disabilities
  • brainstorm ideas for bridging the gap between computing faculty, disability services faculty, and veterans services
  • share information about best practices for serving students, including veterans, with disabilities, funding opportunities, and resources
  • network

The primary goal of the CBI is to help Auburn University faculty and staff reduce barriers and optimize levels of challenge and support to meet the needs of all learners.

Speakers and panelists were also CBI participants. Many either had disabilities or were practitioners with direct experience in serving students with disabilities. Broad issues that were discussed included:

  • recruitment and retention of students, including veterans, with disabilities in postsecondary education
  • assistive technology

In this CBI:

  • all participants contributed to its success
  • experts in all topic areas were in the audience
  • 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 individual presentations and group discussion. Individual presentations included information on computing and IT career opportunities for students with disabilities and best practices for institutions serving students with disabilities, including veterans, as well as web accessibility and assistive technology. The group discussion offered participants an opportunity to explore new ways for campus disability services, computing departments, and various other groups to collaborate to improve the postsecondary experiences of students with disabilities, including veterans.

The agenda for the CBI and summaries of the presentations are provided on the following pages.