We're Not in Kansas Anymore!

By Eric Trekell, DO-IT Staff
First Annual Convening

As the iconic line in the film “Wizard of Oz” goes, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore!” But while members of DO-IT’s West Coast team of the NSF Eddie Bernice Johnson INCLUDES Initiative: The Alliance for Students with Disabilities for Inclusion, Networking, and Transition Opportunities in STEM (TAPDINTO-STEM) project didn’t make it to Kansas, they did visit Kansas City, MO, for a convening of the TAPDINTO-STEM Alliance.

Over 85 people attended the convening, held at the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus, March 29-31. About 30 attendees were students with disabilities, all of whom are pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) at postsecondary institutions across the country. The remainder of attendees were project staff, project partners, mentors, and postsecondary faculty/staff.

Scott Bellman, DO-IT Center manager and TAPDINTO-STEM West Coast Hub leader, attended the event along with 6 other members from the west coast team and 5 students from West Coast Hub campuses. Scott facilitated two sessions with students called “Accessibility Reviews of STEM Learning Environments,” where students learned how to evaluate STEM learning environments for accessibility and share feedback with the person responsible for the environment. Scott also facilitated an “end-of-day reflection” where attendees were encouraged to think critically about what they had learned during the day and share their thoughts with the group.

There were over twenty sessions offered to attendees. Examples included Accessibility Reviews of STEM Learning Environments, Neurodiverse Edusystems: Proactively Accommodating Variability to Advance Campus Climate, Understanding Student-Professor (mis)Communication, The Team Approach: How Collaborating with your Campus Disability Office can Maximize Student Learning, and an Industry Round Table.

Now that the team is back on our respective campuses, our focus will shift to several upcoming TAPDINTO-STEM events, including an April discussion session with students focused on ethics related to emerging technologies. To learn more about the TAPDINTO-STEM alliance, visit the alliance website at tapdintostem.org or visit the DO-IT led West Coast Hub site.