Based on discussions with 70 respondents from Teach Access member companies, partners of the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT), and others in the technology sector, the two organizations recently reported a significant accessible technology skills gap among employees and job candidates across a broad range of public and private organizations. Among the findings:
- 63% of the respondents reported that their current staff don’t have the skills necessary to meet their organization’s goals.
- 60% reported that it is “difficult or very difficult” to find job candidates with the accessibility skills that their organization needs.
- When asked how this gap impacts their organizations, respondents cited increased costs and decreased productivity.
In response, Teach Access and PEAT are taking action together to close this gap. “These findings confirm that we still have a significant knowledge gap and that accessibility needs to be a fundamental part of education pathways for students of computer science and design,” says Jeff Wieland, Director of Accessibility at Facebook and a founding member of Teach Access. Earlier this year, PEAT partnered with Teach Access to support the development of resources for colleges and universities to infuse the teaching of fundamental accessible technology concepts and skills into their computer science, design and related curricula. Their efforts this year have included the creation of a new grant award program for faculty members working to incorporate accessibility principles into their existing courses.
Teach Access is pleased to announce that the first-time Teach Access Curriculum Development Awards will go to 13 faculty members who will each receive $5,000. These awards will be used to develop modules, presentations, exercises or curriculum enhancements or changes that introduce the fundamental concepts and skills of accessible design and development in existing, classroom-based courses.
These awards are made possible through funding from the Reader’s Digest-Partners for Sight Foundation and Teach Access member companies. In addition, a total of 10 awards were made available for New York City-based college faculty, thanks to a donation from The New York Community Trust.
Seven additional awards this year are still available for NYC-based faculty until August 31. If interested, we strongly encourage qualified applicants to go to this link to apply.
The awards process was competitive, and each application was evaluated on its potential impact, strongest outreach plans, sustainability and clear evaluation plans. Other evaluation criteria included size and type of courses, with an added focus on geographic diversity.
The 13 award winners are (in alphabetical order):
- Camila Afanador-Llach (Florida Atlantic University)
- Bruce Elgort (Clark College)
- Aaron Ganci (Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis)
- Claire Kearney-Volpe (New York University)
- Devorah Kletenik (Brooklyn College, CUNY)
- Amanda Lazar (University of Maryland, College Park)
- Li Liu and Joe Bautista (California State University Northridge)
- Victoria Lowell (Purdue University)
- Vivian Motti (George Mason University)
- Rebecca Mushtare (SUNY Oswego)
- Brian Stone (Boise State University)
- Deborah Sturm (College of Staten Island, CUNY)
- Amber Wagner (Birmingham-Southern College)
Teach Access appreciates the thoughtful considerations of our selection committee who represented industry, academia and the disability advocacy community, and thanks everyone who took the time to apply.
Special thanks go to all of the applicants who demonstrated their dedication to helping make systemic changes in higher ed curricula, to assure emerging technologies will be “born accessible.” We anticipate similar awards will be available in the future and encourage all to join our email list by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org to stay current with Teach Access activities.