University’s Experience Architecture (XA) undergraduate program to co-sponsor an intern
April 4, 2023 — Teach Access, a non-profit dedicated to addressing the digital accessibility skills gap in higher education, has partnered with Michigan State University (MSU) to co-sponsor an intern from their Experience Architecture (XA) undergraduate program.
Experience Architecture is an interdisciplinary degree specializing in the user experience design of digital and physical environments. In this program, students cultivate skills in information architecture, interaction design, web development, usability, and accessibility.
“It means so much to myself and to our program to be able to partner with Teach Access, who shares our values and goals when it comes to curriculum, academic leadership, and educating scholars and industry professionals on the importance of accessibility,” said Dr. Casey McArdle, director of undergraduate studies at MSU’s Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures (WRAC).
Emily Paterson, a junior working towards a dual degree in Experience Architecture and Professional and Public Writing, has been selected to fill the internship position at Teach Access.
“I am absolutely honored to support Teach Access as they work towards their goal of reaching one million students by 2030,” said Paterson. “This is an amazing opportunity to close my own gaps in accessibility knowledge alongside expanding the skills of an entire generation of students.”
Paterson will work with Teach Access staff to support a range of projects intended to enhance students’ understanding of digital accessibility as they learn to design, develop and build new technologies with the needs of people with disabilities in mind.
“Since joining Teach Access from MSU, my goal has been to maintain a connection with the university and I’m so happy to see this goal realized with the addition of Emily to our team,” said Kate Sonka, the executive director of Teach Access. “In the years I have known XA students, they consistently impress me with their ability to think critically and act empathetically and I know that Emily will bring those same skills and knowledge to this position.”
Initially built on a 100% volunteer base, Teach Access was founded in 2016 as a grassroots initiative designed to target the drastic disconnect between the accessibility skills of university students and the expectations from industry leaders.
“As MSU is the first land grant institution and a state university, we believe it has a responsibility to provide an education that reaches every Michigander,” said Dr. McArdle. “This internship can help bridge the gap between curriculum and institutional engagement with accessibility.”
In a recent survey conducted by Teach Access, 56% of respondents from industry, academia, and advocacy organizations said it was difficult or very difficult for their organization to hire job candidates with accessibility skills. Teach Access has been scaling programs and initiatives including Study Away, Faculty Grants, Student Career Development Series, and newly launched Faculty Fellowship pilot program to address this need in higher education.
“I’m delighted that this partnership represents the start of a long-standing pipeline for MSU XA students to continue bringing their talents to Teach Access,” said Sonka.
Students looking to gain familiarity with topics related to accessibility and disability can apply to be a part of Teach Access’ 2023 Virtual Study Away. In this two-part program, students will engage with industry professionals and work to become advocates for accessibility. Interested applicants should apply by March 24, 2023.
To learn more about Teach Access visit www.teachaccess.org
About Teach Access: Teach Access is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization collaborating with education, industry, and disability advocacy organizations to address the critical need to enhance students’ understanding of digital accessibility as they learn to design, develop, and build new technologies with the needs of people with disabilities in mind. Teach Access envisions a fully accessible future in which students enter the workforce with knowledge of the needs of people with disabilities and skills in the principles of accessible design and development, such that technology products and services are born accessible.