AccessERC Hosts CBI
On December 6-8, AccessERC hosted its third capacity building institute (CBI), titled Increasing the Participation of People with Disabilities in Engineering Research Centers (ERCs).
The National Science Foundation funds ERCs, where postsecondary researchers and industry collaborate on complex engineered systems and technologies that could spawn whole new industries or radically transform existing ones. Members of ERCs from across the country attended the CBI to learn more about including individuals with disabilities in their centers.
Participants visited the UW’s BioRobotics Lab, where they learned about cutting edge research and practiced evaluating accessibility by using the DO-IT publication “Checklist for Making Engineering Labs Accessible to Students with Disabilities”.
CBI participants also learned about best practices for including people with disabilities, such as
- understanding disability culture and disability rights;
- recruiting individuals with disabilities as students, staff, and mentors;
- applying universal design principles to activities, facilities, and research;
- providing accommodations for engineering activities; and
- making sure that information technology (e.g., documents, websites) is accessible.
The participants continue conversations online in the AccessERC community of practice, where they talk about increasing the engagement of people with disabilities in ERCs.
AccessERC is a collaboration between DO-IT and an ERC at the University of Washington called the Center for Neurotechnology (CNT). Dr. Rajesh Rao, CNT Principal Investigator, shares “ERCs are designed to have huge impact in society by solving some of the major challenges in engineering that society is currently facing. In order to have that kind of impact and solve these important problems, we need to include every section of society, including people with disabilities, in all aspects of ERCs.”