Veterans Center

Debra's Conference Experience: A Case Study on Challenges Faced by Conference Participants Who Are Deaf


My name is Debra. I am a college student who is deaf. Over the summer, I participated in a Research Experience for Undergraduates summer program where I helped develop an open-source 3D-printed wrist orthosis for individuals who have had a spinal cord injury. I attended and presented the results of this research at a national conference focused on prosthetics and orthotics.

How can I include people with disabilities in the broader impacts statement of my NSF grant proposal?

National Science Foundation grant proposals must include a description of the broader impacts of the proposed work. One consideration is how project activities will promote the full participation of people with disabilities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). There are many ways to include people with disabilities in your work and to otherwise address access issues for people with disabilities. This might include:

Capacity Building Institutes: A Promising Practice for Collaboration

Capacity-building institutes (CBIs) bring together individuals from a variety of stakeholder groups to explore problems around a specific topic area and come up with potential solutions that increase the capacity of stakeholders to solve identified problems. The DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) Center at the University of Washington in Seattle has hosted dozens of CBIs focused on increasing the success of individuals with disabilities in college and careers and improving the accessibility of information technology (IT).

What is the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and what do they do?

The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is a federal agency with the responsibility of ensuring equal access to education through the enforcement of civil rights. Several federal agencies have offices for civil rights attached to them, but the OCR in the Department of Education is specifically responsible for enforcing numerous federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance from the Department of Education.

What is the Workforce Recruitment Program?

The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP), which is co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment and the US Department of Defense, is a recruitment and referral program for college students and recent college graduates with disabilities. Through the program, students are matched with summer internships or permanent jobs in the federal government. Since 1995, over seven thousand students or recent graduates have been placed in internships or jobs in a wide variety of fields and locations through the WRP.

Where can I learn about challenges and opportunities for veterans with disabilities in postsecondary education?

The short 13-minute video Returning from Service: College and IT Careers for Veterans and the related publication provide an overview of some of the opportunities and challenges faced by veterans with disabilities as they transition to the postsecondary classroom and pursue degrees in computing and information technology fields.

What is sensorimotor neural engineering and how does the field benefit people with disabilities?

Sensorimotor neural engineers study the properties of neural systems (e.g., the brain, spinal cord, nerves, ganglia, and parts of the receptor and effector organs), including sensory systems and motor systems, to identify how engineering techniques can be applied to them. For example, in recent years the field has shown that it's possible to control devices by using signals from the brain. Such advancements can improve products and technology commonly used by people with disabilities (e.g., prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs, augmentative communication devices).

What is Hire Heroes USA?

Hire Heroes USA was formed in 2007 by representatives from Seattle area corporations who wanted to help veterans and military family members find corporate workforce jobs. Each year, Hire America's Heroes hosts an annual symposium to "share best practices and success strategies for sourcing, recruiting, hiring, on-boarding, and retaining America's transitioning service members and military veterans."