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Icon for: Richard Ladner


AccessCS10K, University of Washington


NSF Awards: 1440843

2015 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 9-12, Undergraduate, Graduate

The demand for trained computer scientists and engineers has grown and continues to grow dramatically. Despite the recognized need for a diverse computing workforce, women, racial/ethnic minorities, and people with disabilities continue to be underrepresented in computing and STEM fields. In this short video one woman shares advice for instructors on how their behaviors impact an underrepresented students’ decision to pursue computer science. 

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Discussion from the 2015 Teaching & Learning Video Showcase (11 posts)
  • Icon for: Tammy Pirmann

    Tammy Pirmann

    K-12 Coordinator
    May 11, 2015 | 03:12 p.m.

    How early in a students educational career can we start to encourage participation in CS or other technical fields? Educational time is a premium for our disabled students, often including PT and OT within the school day.

  • Richard Ladner

    May 12, 2015 | 04:12 p.m.

    Excellent point. It is not just PT and OT, but blind students have to learn Braille and screen reader technologies. There is a lot to do beyond the regular classroom instruction. Our CS 10K project is focusing on high school because that is where the new computer science classes are being taught. There are some curricula for k-5 and middle school, but they don’t involve as much time of the day as full classes.

  • Icon for: Amy Busey

    Amy Busey

    Research Associate
    May 12, 2015 | 01:34 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing! In the context of this work, what do you see as the (related?) roles of 1) accessibility related efforts (increasing capacity for inclusive teaching, making curriculum materials accessible, etc.) and 2) shifting student perceptions, interests, beliefs re: the field?

  • Richard Ladner

    May 12, 2015 | 04:27 p.m.

    1. AccessCS10K has two focuses, one is on helping with inclusive teaching (Universal Design of Instruction) and the other with developing tools and curricula that are accessible. These are very important in order to achieve the goal of increasing the participation of students with disabilities in computing fields.
    2. Through our other project called AccessComputing we have been working with hundreds of students nationwide to help them get into the computing fields. Some of these students are featured in the web site “choose computing” http://www.washington.edu/accesscomputing/get-i....

  • Icon for: Sue Ellen McCann

    Sue Ellen McCann

    Executive in Charge, Science
    May 12, 2015 | 03:29 p.m.

    I enjoyed the personal perspective you included in the video from one of your students. I’m curious about how you conduct your recruiting?

  • Richard Ladner

    May 12, 2015 | 04:34 p.m.

    Please see my answer below to your question. I forgot to open the reply box.

  • Icon for: Brian Belland

    Brian Belland

    Associate Professor
    May 12, 2015 | 04:27 p.m.

    this is very interesting and important work. I wonder what are the strategies that you have found to be strongest for helping people with different disabilities to become involved in computer science? Obviously it would likely vary quite a bit by disability, but I also wonder if there could be some commonalities, like perhaps having an atmosphere in which people know they are judged solely on their ability to contribute.

  • Icon for: Richard Ladner

    Richard Ladner

    Lead Presenter
    Professor Emeritus
    May 12, 2015 | 04:51 p.m.

    Naturally, working with students directly with both content and encouragement works. However, we spend a lot of energy on institutional change, helping computing departments and organizations become for accessible and welcoming to students with disabilities. A simple thing like having a picture of a student with a disability on a department homepage can have a lot of impact. Often counselors and parents are not aware of successful computer professionals with certain disabilities. So they discourage a student with that disability from entering computing fields. Please see our “chose computing” web site for some examples of role models. http://www.washington.edu/accesscomputing/get-i...

  • Richard Ladner

    May 12, 2015 | 04:28 p.m.

    Our other project AccessComputing has about 35 partner institutions. Our partners refer their students with disabilities to us. In addition, AccessComputing maintains several communities of practice and individuals in those refer their students to us. One of those communities of practice includes disability resources for students directors who pass on our announcements to students. We have some high school students too, but not as many as undergraduate and graduate students.

  • Icon for: Michelle Perry

    Michelle Perry

    May 12, 2015 | 06:32 p.m.

    Beyond perception and available time for students with disabilities, are there other barriers or challenges you’ve encountered to recruiting students to CS?

  • Icon for: Richard Ladner

    Richard Ladner

    Lead Presenter
    Professor Emeritus
    May 12, 2015 | 06:58 p.m.

    One barrier in recruiting young blind students to computing has been the emphasis the past ten or so years on what are called block languages, like Scratch, Snap, Alice, Blockly, and others. These tools are great for sighted students who can easily manipulate the blocks, but are not accessible to blind students. One of the goals of AccessCS10K is create more tools and curricula that are accessible and fun for everyone. We are also helping the creators of these block language find ways to make them accessible.

  • Further posting is closed as the event has ended.