Nearly one in seven Americans has a significant disability; should they be exceptions? Through readings, guest lectures, videos, and projects we will explore the legal, moral, cultural, and technical issues and opportunities raised by this “minority you can join at any time”. We will focus on ways that computer technology can be used to mitigate the effects of disabilities and the sometimes surprising response of those we intended to help. We will work together with teachers, experts and individuals with disabilities to develop ideas and content for new enabling technologies. Previous computer experience is helpful but not required; creativity, ability to think “outside the box”, and the desire to make the world a bit better are more important. This is an approved Apples Service Learning Course.

Students will work with teachers, researchers, and people with disabilities to develop new applications of computers to enabling people with disabilities. We will use a “Wizard-of-Oz” approach (humans pretend to be a computer interface in order to evaluate its effectiveness) to allow these creative non-programmers to show us computer geeks how the interfaces should work. They will watch the controversial video “Sound and Fury” and read about the origins of Deaf culture. They will write about and discuss in class the relationship of Deaf culture to other civil rights movements. They will investigate the impact of legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act on business and education. Students will help organize and participate in “Maze Day” a field trip (to UNC) for blind children from around the state. The students will interact one-on-one with our blind visitors, their parents and teachers to evaluate the effectiveness of their proposed computer applications.

Instructor: Gary Bishop
Meetings: Sitterson 115 Tuesday/Thursday 11:00 - 12:15