Showcasing our best: inspiring students with disabilities

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Ed says the great jobs of tomorrow will be in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Unfortunately, people with disabilities are currently underrepresented in these fields. So, the accessibility team here at SAS is working hard to make sure that analytical tools are accessible for everyone. This team wants to inspire students with disabilities to consider careers in STEM fields.

The STEM Career Showcase for Students with Disabilities will be held at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (in Raleigh) on October 16. We expect about 175 students with disabilities to attend the event in person at the museum. Thousands more will join us virtually, since the event will also be broadcast live over the web.

 

STEM Showcase at NC Museum of Natural Sciences

 

Ed reached out to his network of professionals with disabilities and invited a star-studded group to come to Raleigh. Participating students will have the opportunity to talk to these role models, among them:

  • A blind Research Scientist.
  • A professor of Human-Computer Interaction with physical disabilities.
  • A Forensic Scientist with a hearing impairment.
  • A Physical Therapist with AD/HD.
  • A blind graduate student working on his PhD in Computer Science.
  • A social entrepreneur with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
  • The Assistant Secretary of Disability Employment Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor.

The really neat thing about this event is how it grew from concept to reality. You see, when Ed started losing his vision, he wasn’t sure he would be able to work at all. It was a tough time. Eventually, though, he found role models who helped him learn how to use the tools that allow blind people to not only compete in this competitive global economy, but perform at the top of their fields.  Today, Ed leads a team of talented professionals who are creating new technology at the world’s largest privately-held software company. He would not have made it this far without those role models.

About a year ago Ed starting making noise about the importance of role models for students with disabilities. He kicked around ideas with teachers, parents, and his colleagues here at SAS. Then, the great folks at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences volunteered to host the event. Other STEM professionals jumped in with more awesome suggestions, and I got to watch this whole epic idea snowball.

Of course, any event like this requires money. Well, the JMP team here at SAS chipped in some, followed by our friends at The Bresler Foundation, IBM, and Pearson. When Ed invited professionals with disabilities from across the country to come to Raleigh, they were all eager to participate. One good idea led to another. Before you know it, the team had planned the event. We've just opened registration.

I had a front-row seat (okay, so maybe I was really just lying down on the floor) to the whole amazing process!

If that's not enough for you, find more information here:

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Willie the Seeing Eye Dog

SAS Accessibility and Applied Assistive Technology

Willie the Seeing Eye dog has been part of the SAS Accessibility and Applied Assistive Technology team for four years. He helps Software Development Manager Ed Summers get around SAS Corporate Headquarters without breaking his neck. He plans to blog about his many adventures with Ed as they work to ensure that users of all abilities can succeed using SAS software.

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