Willie goes to the White House


Ed says the great jobs of tomorrow will be in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. There’s a strong demand for graduates in those fields. That’s why it is critically important for all of our young people to get a solid education in math and science.

Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy with Ed, and Willlie

However, students with disabilities face formidable challenges in the classroom.  For example, much of the information in math and science curriculums is presented visually. This is a barrier to success for kids with visual impairments.

Over the last year, Ed and the accessibility tribe here at SAS have been working to solve these problems. They have created a variety of charts, graphs, and maps that support tactile and auditory interaction.

The technology is still under development. However, it is now possible for totally blind students to access SAS data visualizations on Apple touchscreen devices using the built-in Voiceover screen reader. As a blind student drags her finger around the screen, she hears a description of each feature of the data visualization.

This technology could be a real game-changer for students with visual impairments. Check out the SAS Global Forum paper on this topic and download the SAS macro that produces accessible scatter plots using SAS/GRAPH to see the code. Ed will post a video of a demo soon.

As a result of this work, SAS was nominated for the White House Champions of Change award for STEM Equality for Americans with Disabilities. Ed and I were honored to represent SAS during the awards ceremony at the White House on May 7th.

We had a blast in Washington, D.C. and it was really cool to go to the White House. However, the highlight of my trip was the Washington Monument. When I saw that thing I wanted to mark it so bad I couldn’t see straight. I tried my best to pull Ed over to it. He wouldn’t let me get there. I’m not supposed to mark territory when I’m working, but I really really wanted to claim that beautiful thing as my own! Oh well, maybe next time.


About Author

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.


  1. Deborah Blank on

    Willlie, the pioneering work that Ed and others are doing at SAS is yet another reason to be proud to work for this company. While their work is impressive, I'm sure you were the star at the White House. I'm glad you enjoyed the Washington Monument and also that you were able to curb your enthusiasm while you were there. Congratulations--and thank you!

  2. Willie, when we all see you here on campus, we want to pet you as much as you wanted to go to the monument. But alas, we too control ourselves because we know you are at work.

    Willie is such a magnificent creature.

  3. Willie, you are by far my favorite blogger. I know just what you mean about having to resist natural instincts. When you visit the HCC with Ed it's all I can do not to scratch you behind your ears while you're working!

  4. Trey Whittenton on

    Look at that Washington Monument, standing there like it owns the place. It looks like it's taunting you, Willie. I feel for you, man.

  5. Marilyn Pacheco on

    Willie, next time you're in my office with Ed, I'll congratulate you on all your accomplishments. We're glad you could go to the White House. Keep up the good work!!

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