Saturday Computing Experience (AccessComputing News - January 2012)

Rob Roth, AccessComputing Staff

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the first Saturday Computing Experience (SCE) for deaf and hard-of-hearing students took place in Spring 2011. Kyle Rector, a graduate student in Computer Science and Engineering Department at the University of Washington, led the class. Six young women and three young men from ACE High School in Highline, Edmonds-Woodway High School in Mountlake Terrace, and Roosevelt High School in Seattle participated. Volunteers included other graduate students from the Computer Science and Engineering Department, and staff from Cray, Google and Microsoft. Staff included two graduates of the Summer Academy for Advancing Deaf & Hard of Hearing in Computing and AccessComputing team members, Josiah Cheslik and Jordan Atwood. The program was developed by Richard Ladner, PI of AccessComputing.

The nine deaf and hard-of-hearing students presented the results of their Arduino project to parents and teachers on the final day of the 9-week program. The students demonstrated what they learned about computer science: that it can produce useful products and be a viable career path. One student created a light color mixer with dials to create any visual color. Another useful application was a temperature sensor, with a light that turns blue when cold and red when hot.

One of the student's parents commented that the SCE exposed their daughter to a level of computing that she had no previous experience with. Another said that the SCE helped their son pick a career path.