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Richard Ladner Receives 2020 National Science Board Public Service Award

The National Science Board (NSB) has named computer scientist and disability advocate Richard Ladner as the 2020 recipient of its Public Service Award. This award is granted to individuals and groups that have contributed substantially to increasing public understanding of science and engineering.

From the NSB announcement:

Dr. Ladner has demonstrated exemplary science communication and diversity advocacy throughout his career and has been called the “conscience of computing.”

His research focuses on developing tools to make technology more accessible to those with disabilities. Ladner’s projects range from making wireless cell phone communication through sign language a reality to improving access to graphical images for blind students.

“I am honored to receive this recognition from the National Science Board,” said Ladner, “and heartened that the scientific community is rising to the important challenge of supporting students with disabilities. This is an important part of diversity and inclusion in science.”

Over the past 25 years, Dr. Ladner has participated in or organized numerous computer science workshops for high school students with disabilities. Currently, he and his colleagues are developing accessible curricula and training teachers of blind and visually impaired students, teachers of deaf and hard of hearing students, and teachers of learning-disabled students to help more students with disabilities participate in AP Computer Science Principles courses. As a faculty member in the University of Washington’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, he has mentored 136 students, including 30 PhD students.

From his foundational experiences as a graduate student teaching hands-on mathematics in his community to co-founding AccessComputing, Dr. Ladner has spent his career educating and changing the conversation on diversity.

“When we think about diversity, we must include disability as part of that. The conversation about diversity should always include disability,” said Ladner.

AccessComputing brings together 62 institutions and organizations with a goal of increasing the participation and the success of students with disabilities. This NSF-funded project has supported more than 950 students with disabilities and promotes inclusivity and accessibility beyond compliance at institutions across its collaborative institutions.

“We cannot exclude anyone when it comes to the important pursuit of scientific advancement,” said Victor McCrary, Vice Chair of the National Science Board said Victor McCrary, Vice Chair of the National Science Board and Chair of the 2020 NSB Honorary Awards Subcommittee. “Richard Ladner’s work has significantly enlarged the circle of perspectives at the bench, and by welcoming and empowering those with disabilities to fully contribute he has greatly enhanced and advanced our nation’s global leadership in science, engineering, and technology.”

Ladner received CRA’s A. Nico Habermann award in 2008 for his lifelong, strong and persistent advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities in the computing community. He has participated in several CRA Widening Participation Committee initiatives, including the Grad Cohort Workshop for Underrepresented Minorities and Persons with Disabilities. He also co-authored the article Broadening Participation in Computing Fields by Preparing More Professionals with Disabilities for the Expanding the Pipeline column in CRN.

Congratulations to Richard for this much-deserved award! Read the full announcement here.