While many organizations and programs have sought to make computer science available to all students, often it was through pathways and tools that were fundamentally inaccessible for students with disabilities. Because of this, Richard Ladner, Professor Emeritus in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington, partnered with Andreas Stefik of Quorum to develop AccessCSforAll, a brand-new set of curriculum and tools meant to empower organizations and teachers and make K-12 computer science education accessible for students with disabilities.
Since 2013, they’ve worked to spread awareness regarding the accessibility of computer science to students who are blind, deaf, or have learning disabilities. More recently, AccessCSForAll has been working to arm teachers with the resources they need to be successful such as professional development and online support with virtual communities, tutorials, and more. In addition, the team also works to develop curriculum and materials that these teachers can use in their classrooms.
Looking ahead, AccessCSforAll recognizes that while sometimes progress is two steps forward and one step back, there is optimism about the direction of accessibility in computer science. Today, more and more companies are creating mainstream products and technology with accessibility in mind, which in turn sets a standard and infrastructure for future web, app, and digital innovations. As Richard says, “Accessibility is becoming mainstream. It’s not something one person does, it’s something everyone does.”