In an effort to help people with disabilities enter computer science fields, the CSforAll initiative this month announced an accessibility pledge to encourage companies and schools to eliminate some of the obstacles to participating in computer science that disabled people face.
So far, 49 organizations have taken the pledge to make computer science accessible via technical accommodations, recruitment materials, teacher preparation, and structural issues like class scheduling.
One adviser to the initiative, Meredith Boyce, who went blind at 14, faced significant challenges in learning computer science as the only student with a disability and often the only girl in her classes. Screen readers and screen magnification software often are not very effective with code-writing software, and Boyce says administrators discouraged her from taking computer science because it required the school and teachers to take extra steps.
Emma Koslow, another CSforAll adviser who has vocal and motor tics as well as a neurological disorder, founded Programming Pals, an online computer science tutoring service for students with disabilities. "Unfortunately, there are little to no organizations that support students with disabilities in computer science," Koslow says.
Both Boyce and Koslow say technology can help people with disabilities communicate more equally in society.
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