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Breaking Down Barriers to Computer Science For Students With Disabilities

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Sheryl Burgstahler, director of the University of Washington's Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology Center, notes that disabled students are often shortchanged in computer science (CS) education. Burgstahler and others are working to make CS more widely available via initiatives such as the U.S. National Science Foundation's AccessCSForAll project.

Thanks to a new grant, AccessCSForAll will establish a research practitioner partnership with schools that serve students with disabilities and mainstream schools to determine the efficacy of an accessible version of the Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles class for handicapped learners. The project also will recruit experts to develop educational resources for CS instructors to learn how to include students with disabilities, using a blend of collective work with teachers and individualized support for teachers in need.

Although the grant will not impact CS education for women and underrepresented minorities, University of Nevada professor Andreas Stefik says the NSF is "absolutely cognizant" of these populations.

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