Insight Into Diversity Magazine: UMD Leads Projects Aimed at Career Support, Accessibility for People with Disabilities (ft. Jonathan Lazar)

INFO Staff - January 23, 2024

INFO Professor Jonathan Lazar promotes digital accessibility

Two people talking, one of whom is using a wheelchair

Photo courtesy of Insight Into Diversity magazine

This past year, the University of Maryland (UMD) has continued its commitment to creating a more equitable world for people with disabilities. The Center for Transition and Career Innovation (CTCI) at UMD received contracts totaling $7.1 million to enhance transitional phases for individuals with disabilities between secondary education, postsecondary education, and the workforce. The largest contracts, funded by the U.S. Department of Education Disability Innovative Fund, focus on creating clear pathways to college and the workforce for individuals with disabilities in Connecticut and Maryland. During the same year, Jonathan Lazar led a team of UMD faculty and staff in winning UMD Grand Challenges Funding to launch the Maryland Initiative for Digital Accessibility (MIDA). MIDA, a multidisciplinary effort now involving 45 faculty and staff members across seven UMD colleges and multiple university offices, seeks to promote greater accessibility in digital technology research, development, and education. 

“With digital technology and content often designed to be inaccessible, a reactive remediation process is required that may be unnecessarily expensive, reflects bad design, and fails to recognize the humanity of people with disabilities because there is a delay in access during the time that the technology is being remediated,” says Jonathan Lazar, PhD, LLM, professor in UMD’s College of Information Studies. “Our goal is to work with campus partners and external partners to influence digital technology design research and practice so that it involves the disability community as an equal partner, accessibility is proactively built in, and we demonstrate the success of technology projects that are ‘born-accessible.’”

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The original article, written by Erik Cliburn, was published in Insight Into Diversity on January 2, 2024.