How can you introduce accessibility topics in engineering courses?

Date Updated

There are multiple strategies that an instructor can take to include information about accessibility in engineering courses. Having an entire class focused on accessibility in web design or engineering is great. However, it is possible to incorporate accessibility topics into almost any engineering class. An instructor could focus part of or a full lecture on an accessibility topic. Teaching about accessibility or inviting including a guest speaker can help increase knowledge and the perspective of engineers as a whole.

There are interesting engineering problems that have to do with accessibility that can be included as part of a lecture in a course. For example, when discussing data compression, you could use an example about Braille. Signal processing lectures could draw from acoustic modems used in TTY systems or directional hearing aids. Other courses lend themselves to having a whole lecture on accessibility topics. A human computer interaction course might include lectures on universal design or ability-based design. A computer vision course might include a lecture on tactile graphics. When talking about accessibility topics, it is good to include profiles of successful scientists and engineers who happen to have disabilities.

Weaving accessible design knowledge throughout a student’s education promotes the idea that these issues are common in engineering and computing. If disability topics are included multiple times throughout their education, students will realize that these are important issues.

For more information on promoting the participation of persons with disabilities in engineering education in order to increase and diversify the engineering workforce, visit AccessEngineering