Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Project: Possibility

So, before a family tragedy in Aug 2008, I was scheduled to teach a course on software engineering with accessibility as one of the guiding themes/goals. My thought was similar to curb cuts (see many other posts); use the extremes to get students (and SW developers) to think about how their application can be used by everyone possible.

Well, sounds like I'm not alone; USC has a program called Project: Possibility (perhaps a take on the old Mission: Impossible), a quick NY Times read provides a nice overview (the old large diskette in the graphic needs updating, though they use people first language better than the Times :-) -- and I look forward to developing and offering my accessible software engineering course in the near future.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Obama and computing education ...

Tha ACM has made a pitch to promote computing education as a core component, see "ACM Urges Obama to Include Computer Science as a Core Component of Science and Math Education; Statement Emphasizes Critical Role of Computer Science as 21st Century Skill," with the full report here -- there seems to be some push for a more rigorous treatment at the K-12 level, stay tuned.
PS: W3C upgrades accessibility standards

Thursday, December 4, 2008

OSSD and gender ...

Just a quick handoff to Mark Guzdial's post about the underrepresentation (1.5%) of developers in open source projects -- bye.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

This is what I Mean ...

There are many stories about researchers working continuously to make computing and technology more accessible, especially for people with disabilities. It is great when a tool like a computer (or a ramp) can make living a bit easier for someone with a disability.

However, my point for the theme for SIGCSE 2008 is to show that research to help people with all types of mobility, visual, auditory, psychological and other issues better use IT can actually benefit everyone -- true inclusive computing. (BTW, we have a ramp at my house that helps with the wheelchair and when I need to bring in groceries or firewood. :-)

We always ask our students to think of the general as well as the special/corner cases when developing algorithms and programs -- at Haverford we have been using Test-Suite-Driven-Design (TSDD), related to TDD, in our CS1/CS2 courses as a way to get students to think as deeply as possible before coding. It is analogous to the call of "diversity through accessibility."

I am relatively new to this area, as I was reminded by this article that outlines the work of Rich Ladner (photo left) at U Washington. There are many others as well, and I sometimes feel that there work is seen by an unnecessarily small segment of the computing research population and educators. Their work can inform all.

I really like the final quote of the article:
"I don't see barriers," Ladner said. "I see opportunities."

And I realize this notion has been captured previously by others with such metaphors as "curb cuts." Please feel welcome to share others -- JD