A learning disability is a neurological disorder resulting from a difference in the way a person’s brain (LD) is wired when compared to most people. Someone with a learning disability may have difficulty reading, writing, spelling, reasoning, recalling, or organizing. LDs cannot be cured or fixed. However, with the right support and intervention, people with LDs can succeed in school and go on to successful careers. People with learning disabilities often think outside of the box, seeing solutions to problems that someone else may not see.
Accessibility experts in the AccessCSforAll project, funded by the National Science Foundation, can answer individual questions that computing instructors have about working with students with disabilities. Their specific expertise includes topics related to disability types, accessible design of technology, inclusive teaching, and computing education. For support, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 509-328-9331.
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.
Following are examples of strategies for integrating universal design, accessibility, and disability topics into the engineering curriculum, facilities, and programs.
In the electrical engineering and computer science department at the University of Michigan, David Chesney teaches two courses that include accessibility. The first, Gaming for the Greater Good, an introductory course focused on creating a game with accessibility features for a specific disability, is used as a recruitment tool for students interested in computer science. The second, a software engineering capstone class, focused on children with disabilities in the community and how to create accessibility solutions using the latest and greatest technology.
Steps that disability and IT professionals can take to ensure the accessibility of their campus IT resources include:
Many students with disabilities have successfully completed computing courses during their K-12 education. As a result, some individuals with disabilities have successfully completed postsecondary degrees in computing and now have careers in computing fields. However, more work needs to be done in order for all students with disabilities have opportunities to pursue these careers.
Funded by the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation, ClassAct was developed to support instructors and staff who work with deaf and hard of hearing students in all mainstreamed academic environments. ClassAct improves existing teaching practice in mainstream classes by ensuring access to instruction for these students. Resources on the ClassAct website focus on teaching challenges and successful methods as well as helpful communication strategies for the classroom and service units.
Captions make the content in video presentations accessible to individuals who are deaf. They also benefit many other video viewers. Beneficiaries include