AHS a Partner in Microsoft Initiative
The College of Applied Health Sciences will partner with the Department of Computer Science, The Autism Program in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, and the Department of Special Education on an initiative designed to encourage students with autism to pursue studies and careers in the STEM disciplines. Known as the Accessibility Lighthouse Program, the initiative will run through June 2019 and is being supported by a $200,000 grant from Microsoft.
In addition to increasing the number of students with autism who graduate with technology degrees, the goals of the program include building a state-of-the-art, digitally accessible classroom using Microsoft tools, increasing the number of Computer Science students who design accessible software, and supporting the use of Microsoft digital accessibility tools in classrooms across campus.
AHS Dean Cheryl Hanley-Maxwell told attendees at a kick-off event on June 4 that Microsoft’s decision to partner with the University of Illinois made sense given the University’s long-standing leadership in serving the needs of students with visible and non-visible disabilities. “Eighty-five percent of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other disabilities graduate from this campus,” she said. “The national statistic is 41 percent. We must be doing something right.”