Recent advancements in adaptive computer technology, greater reliance on computers, and increased job specialization have resulted in career opportunities in fields that were once considered unattainable for individuals who have disabilities. Many of these careers require knowledge and skills obtained through post-secondary education. Although, the number of individuals with disabilities seeking post-secondary education has increased three-fold over the last decade, they are still underrepresented in some academic and career areas. These areas include science, engineering, and mathematics. Federal legislation mandates that, when needed, academic accommodations be made to ensure that otherwise qualified students with disabilities have educational opportunities that are equal to those of their non-disabled peers.
Studies show that faculty and staff members who have had interactions with students with disabilities generally have more positive attitudes about working with these students. Further, those who are familiar with accommodation strategies are better prepared to make arrangements which will ensure that students with disabilities have equal opportunities to participate in their programs.
The purpose of the enclosed videotape and written materials is to help faculty, staff, and students in post-secondary institutions become more aware of: the rights, responsibilities, potential contributions, and needs of students with disabilities; departmental and individual legal rights and responsibilities for ensuring equal educational opportunities for all students in their programs; strategies for working with students who have disabilities; and campus resources which may help equalize educational opportunities. Funding for the production and distribution of the enclosed materials was provided by NEC Foundation of America, US West Communications, and the National Science Foundation. I hope that you find these materials useful in your efforts to ensure that all of the students in your programs have equal opportunities to learn, explore interests, and express ideas.
Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D.
University of Washington
College of Engineering
Computing & Communications