Gregg Vanderheiden

Gregg Vanderheiden

Gregg Vanderheiden

Professor and Director of the Trace R&D Center
Hornbake Building (South Wing), Room 2117-A
(301) 405-2033

Gregg Vanderheiden is a Professor in the School of Information Studies (iSchool) at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Director of the Trace Research & Development Center at the University of Maryland. Dr. Vanderheiden is the principal investigator of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Information Technology Access, and a co-principal investigator for the RERC on Telecom Access funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. Dr. Vanderheiden has been working in the area of access to technology for over 47 years. He was a pioneer in the field of Augmentative Communication (a term taken from his writings in 1979). He then worked with the computer industry in getting them to build disability access features directly into their standard products. For example, access features developed by Dr. Vanderheiden and his team have been built into the Apple’s Macintosh OS since 1987, IBM’s OS/2 and the UNIX X Window system since 1993. 9 of the first 10 access features built into Windows 95 (and subsequently 98, NT, 2000, Vista, Windows 7, 8, and 10) were licensed (royalty free) from Dr. Vanderheiden and his team.

With the explosion in information and telecommunication technologies, and their increased importance in employment, education, and daily living, Dr. Vanderheiden and the Trace Center focused on building access into public information technologies. Recent achievements include co-chairing and co-authoring the W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, and development of the EZ™ Access techniques for providing cross-disability access in electronic products of all types. He has worked with over 50 companies, and his work is reflected in phones, computers, over 80,000 accessible ATMs, 60,000 Point of Sale terminals, and 20,000+ cross-disability accessible Automated Postal Stations of the USPS, the Amtrak ticket machines, and kiosks in memorials, museums and airline terminals. 

Dr. Vanderheiden served on the FCC's Technological Advisory Council, was a member of the Telecommunications Access Advisory committee and the Electronic Information Technology Access Advisory Committee for the US Access Board, and served on the steering committee for the National Research Council's Planning Group on "Every Citizen Interfaces," co-authoring the National Research Councils, More Than Screen Deep Report. He also served on the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Disability in America, the National Task Force on Technology and Disability, and the National Academies’ IOM committee on the Future of Disability in America. He is a past President of RESNA - the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America, and a Founding Fellow of the American Institute of Medical & Biological Engineering (AIMBE).


Most recently, Dr. Vanderheiden initiated and co-leads an international effort to create a Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII) that focuses on lowering the cost to develop, deploy and support access technologies and to make special access features available on demand, anywhere, any time, on any device Dr. Vanderheiden has served on numerous professional, industry and government advisory and planning committees including those for the National Science Foundation, Veterans Administration, National Council on Disabilities, and the White House. 

Current Research Interests

  • Augmentative communication
  • Accessible technology design and development
  • Inclusive infrastructure


  • Ph.D.,Technology in Communication Rehabilitation and Child Development, University of Wisconsin - Madison
  • MS, Biomedical Engineering
  • BS, Electrical Engineering


Dr. Vanderheiden has received over 30 awards for his work on technology and disability, including:

  • ACM Social Impact Award for the Human-Computer Interaction Community
  • Ron Mace Award
  • Access award from AFB
  • Yuri Rubinsky Memorial Award (WWW6)
  • Isabelle and Leonard H. Goldenson Award for Outstanding Research in Medicine and Technology

Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure - Automated Personalization Computing Project

Principal Investigator: Gregg Vanderheiden
Investigator: Kate Vanderheiden

A Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII) was made to change any devices’ interfaces for people who cannot use technologies due to barriers caused by their level of disability, literacy, and/or digital literacy.

RERC on Universal Interface and Information Technology Access

Principal Investigator: Gregg Vanderheiden

The Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII) will be tested in libraries with a focus on serving users with disabilities. Also, a tool will be developed to help people find and use assistive technologies and access features in everyday technologies.