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.
Canvas is a learning management system (LMS) developed by Instructure. Like most LMSs, Instructure has actively worked to ensure Canvas is accessible to users with disabilities (for details, see the Canvas Accessibility page. However, even if an LMS is fully accessible, an instructor can offer an inaccessible course by creating inaccessible pages or uploading inaccessible content.
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:
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.
AccessCyberlearning, a project supported by the National Science Foundation (grant #1550477), published a set of questions that can be used as a starting point to help online learning (e.g., cyberlearning) projects evaluate the accessibility of their projects.
The checklist, titled Equal Access: Universal Design of Cyberlearning, includes sections on:
Making online learning tools accessible to students and instructors with disabilities is important to meet legal obligations, to ensure equal opportunities, and to broaden participation in academic and careers where some instruction is provided online.
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
Alyssa Taylor, senior lecturer in the Bioengineering Department at the University of Washington (UW), teaches the second part of a two-quarter long Capstone Design sequence.