New Funding: AccessCSForAll (AccessComputing News - January 2015)

Richard Ladner, AccessComputing PI
Two students work together on a computer with the help of a mentor.

AccessCSForAll (#CNS-1440843) is a new NSF-funded program with the goal of increasing the participation of students with disabilities in Exploring Computer Science (ECS) and Computer Science Principles (CSP). It is a collaborative effort of the UW with PI Richard Ladner and Co-PI Sheryl Burgstahler and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, with PI Andreas Stefik. There are two principal objectives to reach our goal:

  • Build the capacity of ECS and CSP teachers to serve students with disabilities through professional development training and individualized real-time support.
  • Create accessible materials that ECS and CSP teachers can use in their classrooms, both tools and curricular units.

We are partnering with as many NSF funded CS10K projects as possible to help them include information about how teachers can engage students with disabilities in there ECS and CSP classes. We will have capacity building institutes for the professional development trainers in these projects, the first of which was held in conjunction with NSF’sCE21 meeting in Baltimore in January 2015. We will also develop an online community of practice for discussing effective teaching of students with disabilities and accessible tools and curriculum. A key activity is real time support for teachers to help them solve problems related to including students with disabilities in their classes.

The grant also provides for the development of accessible tools and curriculum to make sure that there are languages, IDEs, and lessons for teacher to include students with disabilities in their classes. For blind students we will provide curricula based on the Quorum language that can be accessed using screen readers. This curriculum will be universally designed so that all children can participate regardless of disability.

Besides the capacity building workshop at the CE21 meeting, we will be offering a special session (75 minutes) titled “Introduction to AccessCSForAll and Accessible Tools for Teaching Programming” at the SIGCSE conference, March 4-7, 2015.

Over the summer and early fall, Andy Stefik and his team created an accessible Hour of Code for CS Education Week, December 8-14, 2014. It is a fun activity in the Quorum programming related to biology.

For those of you involved with K-12 CS Education, particularly the ECS and CSP curricula, keep a lookout for AccessCSForAll activities that interest you.