1. AI Episode 1: Intro to Artificial Intelligence in Teaching
  2. AI Episode 2: What Does An AI Teaching Assistant Look Like?
  3. AI Episode 3: Implications for Thought Leaders and Policy Developers
  4. Introducing Simulations into Teacher Preparation Programs
  5. Assistive Technology to Support Writing
  6. Enhancing Instruction and Empowering Educators with AI Tools and Technology
  7. So, AI Ruined Your Term Paper Assignment?
  8. Step by Step Use of Chat GPT
  9. CIDDL ChatGPT: Summarizing Text
  10. CIDDL ChatGPT: Solving Multiple Choice Questions
  11. Equity, Diversity, and Access to Technology in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
  12. CIDDL ChatGPT: Writing Programs
  13. CIDDL ChatGPT: Solving Word Problems
  14. Artificial Intelligence: Positives and Negatives in the Mathematics Classroom
  15. AI to Support Literacy
  16. Using the AI Bill of Rights to Guide Education’s use of AI and the European Commission’s “Ethical Guidelines for Teaching and Learning” to Guide the Future of AI in Education Part 1 of 2
  17. Using the AI Bill of Rights to Guide Education’s use of AI and the European Commission’s “Ethical Guidelines for Teaching and Learning” to Guide the Future of AI in Education Part 2 of 2
  18. Three Free & Easy Tools to Support Tiered Reading in Your Classroom
  19. The Question of Equity in the Age of ChatGPT
  20. CIDDList: 5 AIs You Need to Check Out This Summer!
  21. Mixed Reality Simulations, Personalized Learning, AI, and the Future of Education with Dr. Chris Dede
  22. Foundations for AI and the Future of Teaching and Learning from the US Department of Educational Technology
  23. Apple Enters the AR/VR/MR/XR Scene
  24. ChatGPT, AIs, and the IEP?
  25. There’s An AI for That: A Site Dedicated to Curating AIs
  26. UDL, Design Learning, and Personalized Learning
  27. Embracing the Future: How Teachers Can Harness AI at the Beginning of the School Year
  28. Empowering Special Education Faculty: Navigating the AI Landscape in Higher Education for 2023-2024.
  29. CIDDList: Back-to-School Checklist for Technology in Teacher Preparation Courses
  30. Cracking the Code: Students with Disabilities in the Computer Sciences 
  31. UNESCO Discusses Artificial Intelligence
  32. AI-integrated Apps for Those with Visual Impairments: Camera-Based Identifiers and Readers
  33. Publishers Respond to Generative AI
  34. K-12 Generative AI Readiness Checklist
  35. CIDDL Talks How AI Will Change Special Education at TED
  36. Re-designing and Aligning an Intro to Special Education Class to the UDL Framework through Technology Integration: Minimizing Threats and Distractions
  37. Resources for Learning About AI Going Into 2024
  38. Artificial Intelligence in Education 2023: A Year in Review
  39. Revolutionizing Mathematics Education in K-12 with AI: The Role of ChatGPT
  40. Image Generating AI and Implications for Teacher Preparation
  41. Are We There Yet? AI for Statistical Analysis
  42. Answers to Your AI Questions: A Conversation with Yacine Tazi
  43. Emerging Trends in Special Education Technology: A Doctoral Scholar Symposium
  44. 2024: A Space Odyssey? How AI and Technology of the Present Compares to HAL9000 and the Predictions of 2001: A Space Odyssey
  45. Using ChatGPT for Writing Lesson Plans
  46. Updates in the World of AI

Cracking the code: Students with disabilities in the computer sciences

Author: Nicholas Hoekstra; info@ciddl.org

At CIDDL, we like to stay up-to-date on trends in educational technologies and their use, especially when discussing

Just to name a few.

Although it is interesting to consider how these technologies benefit students with disabilities, it is even more interesting to consider if students with disabilities are being prepared to work in these very same fields. After all, who better understands the needs of students with disabilities than the adults they grow up to be? Indeed, organizations such as Google and Microsoft have recognized the unique expertise of persons with disabilities and have created inclusive hiring programs. At the same time, a growing number of states are making computer science courses a required part of school offerings. According to a 2022 article in Tech and Learning, five states now require computer science courses for high school graduation, while an additional 27 states require that high schools offer a computer science course.

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Before Google or Microsoft can hire computer programmers with disabilities, persons with disabilities must be trained in the computer sciences. This begs the question:

Are students with disabilities participating in computer science courses?

According to Ladner (2020), The answer is not clear, thanks to inconsistencies in the ways “disability” and “computer science” are defined. Nevertheless, in a sample of 11 states where computer science data were tracked, only 7.6% of students enrolled in computer science courses were registered as having a disability. This is far below the 12.9% of students with disabilities who were estimated to be attending K-12 education in the same period.

In a more nuanced analysis of data out of the New York City public school system, researchers examined the rates of students with disabilities who completed computer science coursework in elementary, middle, and high school. This study found that, while elementary and middle school students with disabilities studied computer science as similar rates to their peer without disabilities, the percentage of students with disabilities studying computer science dropped significantly in high school.

The Blue Screen of Death

So what is it that prevents students with disabilities from studying computer science?

Obviously, challenges differ depending on the student and their unique needs. Yet there are several broad barriers that have been identified. In a 2019 article, by Stefik et al., researchers highlighted the challenges that exist for students who are blind or visually impaired. These include

  • Challenges with technology – such as the need for websites to be compatible with screen readers and magnifiers – and
  • Barriers in the presentation of curriculum that requires students to watch a demonstration or click on a visual prompt.

Plaut et al. (2023) also point out

  • The lack of ASL, subtitles, or captions for students who are deaf or hard of hearing,
  • A lack of flexibility in the physical environment for students with mobility impairments, and
  • A lack of specific support for students with dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and other learning disabilities.

Finally, in her own personal story of learning to code, a woman with cerebral palsy highlights her difficulties with slow information processing as one of the biggest challenges she is forced to overcome. She doesn’t mention the fact that she is forced to type with just one hand, a fact many individuals would find barrier enough.

Restart Required

This blog is a call to arms for more research into computer science for students with disabilities. While some research has been done, the field of computer sciences is expanding exponentially. More research is required to ensure that individuals with disabilities will have a place in the classroom – and, later, the job market – to help ensure nothing is coded about them, without them.

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