Increasing Access and Opportunity
In 1945, in an effort to educate the public on issues relating to disability and employment, the government declared the 1st week of October as “National Employ the physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was dropped to include individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, it was expanded from one week to a full month and changed to National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NEDEAM).
This year's theme, “Increasing Access and Opportunity” reminds us of the importance of increasing the participation of students with disabilities in STEM. Programs like NSF’s Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) have contributed to knowledge regarding best-practices in designing STEM learning experiences for students with disabilities.
The following projects are doing their part in creating interest in STEM and building future opportunities within STEM fields for students with a variety of disabilities.
Project-Based Learning Opportunities and Exploration of Mentorship for Students with Visual Impairments in STEM
This project will seek to better understand and advance the awareness and persistence toward STEM-related careers by middle and high school students with visual impairments (VI). The project will accomplish these goals by providing VI students with opportunities for accessible project-based learning and mentorship from a VI professional working in a STEM field.
Enhancing Engagement and Conceptual Understanding of Fractions for Students with Learning Disabilities using the Model Mathematics Education Curriculum
The Enhancing Engagement and Conceptual Understanding of Fractions for Students with Learning Disabilities using the Model Mathematics Education Curriculum is a Developing and Testing Innovations (DTI) project in the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program. This project advances efforts of ITEST program by developing an integrated curriculum for 4th - 6th grade students with learning disabilities and difficulties to increase engagement in and understanding of fraction concepts.
Science Technology Engineering and Math: Developing Education and Career Opportunity Systems
This project will advance efforts of the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program to better understand and promote practices that increase student motivations and capacities to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) by developing, testing, and disseminating tools and strategies for increasing awareness of STEM-related careers among high school students with disabilities. Participants in the project will include students having learning, emotional, developmental, or physical disabilities who are eligible for special education services under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act of 2004, and their teachers.
Socio-Environmental Science Investigations Using the Geospatial Curriculum Approach with Web Geospatial Information Systems
This project will develop, implement, and evaluate a series of innovative socio-environmental science investigations (SESI) using a geospatial curriculum approach with STEM-related mentoring that will provide economically disadvantaged students in the 9th grade of the Building 21 school in Allentown, PA with technology-rich geospatial learning experiences to develop STEM-related skills. Project is available at: https://eli.lehigh.edu/sesi
One hundred and ten middle and high school students with disabilities in the Oklahoma City Schools participate in year round, innovative, in-depth activities using the Tech Now curriculum; engage in individual projects, visit college and technology training center and participate in job shadowing.
Project Spotlight: Comprehensive Information Technology Education in Rural Appalachia (CITERA) and eTouchSciences
Building on the work of her ITEST project, Dr. Darrah has created eTouchSciences, a company that provides educational software utilizing haptic technology, which provides real-time tactile feedback to visually impaired students as they explore math and science lessons.