Historically, people with disabilities have faced social and technical barriers that have deterred them from studying or working in t he fields of science, engineering and mathematics. While the barriers can be daunting, researchers are developing new tools and methodologies that ar e allowing people with disabilities to study and work in these fields. In particular, the National Science Foundation is funding several projects that focus on these issues.
There are three basic barriers that people with disabilities must confront.
First, individuals with disabilities have faced negative social attitudes from educators and from potential employers. Second, disabled individuals who are trying to study and work in the science, engineering and mathematics fields, encounter difficulty with physical barriers in laboratories and with standard lab equipment. Third, many disabled individuals have problems accessing and manipulating information that is specific to science, engineering and math -- such as charts, diagrams and scientific notation.
There are answers to both of those questions, and this overview will explain some of the technology and other compensatory strategies that are available to people with disabilities. In the process of introducing the technology, we hope to ease some of those attitudinal barriers.
People with mobility impairments encounter difficulty using standard laboratory equipment, handling books and writing tools, and using computer equipment that has not been appropriately adapted.
People with hearing impairments have problems getting information from traditional lectures, laboratory instruction, quiz sections, and other real-time oral communication. They also have difficulty accessing videos, movies and other multimedia. They may also have difficulty understanding mathematical and scientific abstractions because of language limitations.
Specific Learning Disabilities that Involve Visual Processing Disorders
Some people have learning disabilities that negatively influence visual processing disorders. Such people would have problems understanding many materials that are presented in visual format, such as traditional text materials, videos and movies, graphs and charts. For people with visual processing disorders, there are barriers to understanding visual materials presented in lectures, labs, quiz section s and other real-time events, and problems completing homework assignments and exams.
People with low vision have trouble reading traditional computer screens and computer print-outs. They also have problems reading printed materials. People with visual impairments have problems getting information from slides and overhead projections, videos and movies, and chalkboards. Lab access barriers include encountering safety hazards while maneuvering throughout laboratories that aren't properly laid out or that don't have appropriate labels on equipment, substances and hazards.
People who are blind have problems with computer access, getting information from slides, overhead projections, videos, movies, board drawings and other real-time events. Significant problems are encountered with structured texts, tables, equations, charts, graphs, block diagrams and other graphic displays of quantitative information. There are also problems with writing and manipulating mathematical notation while taking lecture notes, and safety and usage barriers encountered in laboratories.
For more information about access to science, engineering and mathematics for people with disabilities, contact Carmela Castorina at email@example.com or (714) 830-0301. See EASI Street to Science, Engineering and Math on the World Wide Web. URL: http://www.rit.edu./~easi/easisem.html Join EASI's Electronic Discussion list by sending a message to: LISTSERV@MAELSTROM.STJOHNS.EDU Leave the subject line blank. In the body of the text type: sub easi "first name last name" (put your name in quotes as shown.).
DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunity, Internetworking & Technology)
University of Washington
Computing & Communications
Seattle, Washington 98195
Foundation for Science and Disabilities
236 Grand Street
Morgantown, WV 26505-7509
HEATH Resource Center
One Dupont Circle, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20036
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22230
Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic
20 Roszel Road
Princeton, NJ 08540
Phone: 609-452-0606 or 800-221-4792
TRACE Research and Development Center
S-151 Waisman Center, 1500 Highland Ave.
Madison, WI 53705
TDD: (608) 263-5408
Dr. Norman Coombs, Chair
Rochester Institute of Technology
Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler, Vice Chair
University of Washington, DO-IT Program
Phone: 206-543-0622 Internet: Sherylb@CAC.Washington.edu
Carmela Castorina, Editor
Post Office Box 1095
El Toro, California 92630
This document was published as part of EASI's National Science Foundation project. EASI is preparing extensive materials, including pamphlets, videos, booklets, an online workshop and other online Web materials that address access to science, engineering and mathematics. Check EASI's Web Site and electronic discussion list periodically to see what new materials are available.
The purpose of this evaluation is to determine the effectiveness of this pamphlet in fostering positive attitudes and in stimulating new ideas for improving instruction for students with disabilities who wish to study science, engineering and mathematics. Please respond to each item as thoroughly as possible. Your responses will help to guide future efforts.
Area of Specialization:
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1. How would you rate your ability to work with individuals with disabilities prior to reading this pamphlet?
Low Ability High Ability
1 2 3 4 5 2. How would you rate your ability to work with individuals with disabilities after reading this pamphlet? Low Ability High Ability 1 2 3 4 5 3. Please indicate your assessment of this pamphlet. Unclear Clear 1 2 3 4 5 Dull Stimulating 1 2 3 4 5 Limited Informative 1 2 3 4 5
4. Describe one of the most successful things about this pamphlet.
5. Describe one of the least successful things about this pamphlet.
6. How likely are you to incorporate ideas from this pamphlet?
Unlikely Very Likely 1 2 3 4 5 7. Prior to exploring material in this pamphlet, which of the following best describes your beliefs about teaching science, engineering or mathematics to students with disabilities? To hard for these students No Opinion No different from Other Students 1 2 3 4 5 8. Which of the following best describes your attitude after exploring this material? To hard for these students No Opinion No different from Other Students 1 2 3 4 5
9. Specifically, what, if anything promoted a change in your attitude?
10. What issues do you feel will most promote future development of programs encouraging disabled individuals to pursue careers in science, engineering and mathematics?
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