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

No comments: