The Alliance for Access to Computing Careers (AccessComputing) leads activities to increase the participation of people with disabilities, including veterans, in computing and information technology (IT) postsecondary education and career fields. Activities for educators and employers are designed to build awareness of universal design and accommodation strategies, and to aid in recruiting and supporting students with disabilities through the development of inclusive programs and education on promising practices.
Changes to curriculum don’t just happen out of nowhere – they come from faculty members thinking about what to teach and searching for new and innovative ways to engage students in the learning process. Instructors often encounter barriers to curricular change, including:
Completion of a Web Accessibility course is required to earn a Web Design Certificate at Bellevue College in Washington State. In the original curriculum, a large portion of course content focused on legal cases related to web accessibility. Although it is important to understand the role that laws and regulations play, this is not critical to ensure that web designers and developers can actually develop accessible websites.
In a study by Erickson, W. A., Schrader, S. von, Bruyère, S. M., & VanLooy, S. A., best practices reported to increase hiring people with disabilities included:
Employers may encounter a variety of barriers to recruiting interns with disabilities. These include:
My name is Sara. I have a genetic disease called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). EDS is largely an invisible disability. It causes systemic health issues, including gastrointestinal issues, visual impairment, chronic pain, and joint problems that can affect mobility. Rest and self-care are my best options when my symptoms are exacerbated.
The Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning (CIRCL) is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to work with cyberlearning-themed projects to support, synergize, and amplify their efforts. One of the ways CIRCL engages with the many targeted projects is through their dynamic website. The CIRCL site provides a place where new and existing projects can browse project descriptions, read perspectives from community members, and find resources.
At North Dakota State University, engineering students design assistive technologies for veterans with disabilities. Students’ projects must be cost-effective, have a long lifespan, be robust, and be technologically superior to existing options.
AccessCyberlearning, funded by the National Science Foundation under grant #IIS-1550477, works with current and future cyberlearning researchers, technology developers, and instructors to inform their research with what is known about student differences/disabilities; design innovative learning technologies and teaching strategies that are welcoming to, accessible to, and usable by everyone, including people with disabilities; and ensure that project materials and activities are welcoming to, acces
AccessComputing is a program at the University of Washington that helps students with disabilities successfully pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in computing fields. The program also works to increase the capacity of postsecondary institutions and other organizations to fully include students with disabilities in computing courses and programs. As a primarily-online mentoring program, building a community is essential to creating a supportive environment for students with disabilities.