AccessATE Case Studies: Highlighting the Work of Three ATE Projects and Centers

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A student and instructor discuss a textbook in a computer lab

AccessATE creates resources and materials designed to help support the ATE community as they work to make their deliverables and activities more accessible.  The project has a variety of information and events highlighted on their website including three unique case studies that focus on applying the principles of accessibility and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). The case studies highlight ATE projects that collaborated with the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), a nonprofit education research and development organization. CAST’s specialty is expanding learning opportunities for all through Universal Design for Learning. For those who are not familiar with UDL, it is a framework developed to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all disciplines. It focuses on the why, what, and how brains learn. 

The first case study addresses accessibility in a robotics course. Students from Borough of Manhattan Community College worked together to create a more accessible robotics curriculum, including adding alternative descriptive text for each image. The students went through cycles of receiving feedback, revising the curriculum, and then asking clarifying questions. This case study includes a video of the project PI, Dr. Azhar, explaining the goals of the curriculum and his experience working with CAST to revise the lesson plans in the robotics course.

The Micro Nano Technology Education Center (MNT-EC) case study aims to create accessible webinar presentations. The MNT-EC went through cycles of feedback with CAST on the accessibility of their webinars. CAST staff watched each webinar and gave the hosts feedback on changing areas that would increase accessibility. One student from the MNT-EC found the feedback cycle helpful saying, “The more accessible you make your materials, the greater the reach of your materials, the greater the impact you can make with them.” Other highlights of this case study include the interview protocol for webinar feedback. 

Biofab Explorer: Invent Your Future was created by Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI) and CAST. This career guidance tool is an open-source resource that allows students to explore the potential impacts of biofabrication technology on chronic diseases. It also shows individual patient experiences with medical treatments made possible by bioprinted tissues. A unique part of this case study is how the Biofab Explorer tool was created. Career and technical education students, educators, and guidance counselors co-designed the Biofab Explorer, which helped make the tool more accessible. This case study also includes a short video on the uses of the Biofab tool. 

The AccessATE project is led by Internet Scout Research Group, home to ATE Central, in collaboration with four partners who bring together a variety of content expertise to support the community.  Besides CAST (discussed in the post above) the other AccessATE partners include the National Center for Accessible Media, DeafTEC,  and the Human Engineering Research Laboratories. The National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) is a Boston-based research and development facility and part of WGBH, providing support for people with disabilities at home, school, and in their communities. The Center advocates for closed television captioning and Descriptive Video Service for the blind and visually impaired. 

DeafTEC (Technical Education Center for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students) is an NSF ATE Resource Center intending to increase the number of deaf or hard-of-hearing technicians in the workforce. DeafTEC also serves as a resource for high schools and community colleges. 

Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) based at the University of Pittsburgh continuously improves the mobility and function of people with disabilities through a variety of projects and programs.

More case studies are coming soon. Meanwhile, read about the case studies, explore tip sheets, and pursue more resources on AccessATE’s website.

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