Upcoming Events

Digital Accessibility in Engineering and Science

Nov 1 - Nov 1, 2022


Woman wearing headphones and typing on a computer keyboard

Digital Accessibility in Engineering and Science


MathWorks, in partnership with Helen Keller Services and Oscar-nominated director Doug Roland’s Feeling Through Studio, invites you to attend a panel discussion on improving the public understanding of digital accessibility challenges in engineering and science education, research, and practice. This event will be hosted virtually via Microsoft Teams.

Equal and easy access to scientific and engineering data, online design and analysis tools, technical software, and other digital artifacts is crucial for successful participation of people with disabilities in scientific and technological endeavors.

Digital tools for accessing and exploring data, software platforms for developing algorithms to analyze the data, and digital design tools for developing new technologies are often geared towards individuals without visual, auditory, physical, or intellectual disabilities. However unintentional, the lack of accessibility of such tools can often exclude people with disabilities from scientific and engineering activities.

Improving the understanding of digital accessibility challenges by technology providers (such as software companies) is an important first step towards developing more inclusive digital tools. Improving the understanding of these challenges by IT professionals (designers, programmers, software testers) and the general public would help build empathy and support for the participation of people with disabilities in STEM fields.

The Digital Accessibility panel is a great opportunity for STEM educators and students, accessibility coordinators, software professionals, and user experience designers to learn about the accessibility challenges in science and engineering fields.


  • Digital accessibility and its importance to engineers and scientists with disabilities
  • Digital accessibility issues in STEM education and practice
  • Making data and software tools accessible to all engineers and scientists
  • Importance of the accessibility of digital documents, including scientific publications and course textbooks
  • Improving accessibility of data through data sonification, graphical braille displays, and screen readers.


Time                    Title
1:00pm EST       Welcome and Introduction
1:05pm EST       Screening of the short film “Feeling Through”
1:25pm EST       Screening of a segment from “Feeling Through Studio”
1:35pm EST       Moderated panel discussion
2:15pm EST       Q&A


Doug Rolan looking into the camera and wearing a collared shirt

Doug Roland

Filmmaker and Accessibility Advocate, Doug Roland Films Inc.

Doug Roland is an Oscar-nominated director for his film Feeling Through, which was executive produced by Oscar winner Marlee Matlin and was made in collaboration with Helen Keller Services. Doug has continued his collaboration with Helen Keller Services as founder of Feeling Through Studio – an online educational platform featuring presenters from the disability community sharing their lived experiences and knowledge about disability-related topics. As a social impact filmmaker, Doug uses his work to create accessible screening events and speak at conferences, institutions, and schools around the world about collaborative, inclusive storytelling.


Dr. Amy Bower wearing a white sweater and smiling into the camera

Dr. Amy Bower

Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Dr. Amy Bower is a Senior Scientist in the Department of Physical Oceanography at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts. Amy’s interest in the natural environment started as a kid growing up on the New England coast and was fostered by engaging math and physics teachers in high school. As a Physics major at Tufts University, Amy discovered that she was most interested in geophysics and through an off-campus program called Sea Semester, she learned there was a field of science called physical oceanography where she could combine her training in math and physics with her love of the Earth’s physical environment, especially its oceans. While attending graduate school at the University of Rhode Island to prepare for a career as an oceanographer, Amy was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative retinal disease that has caused a slow loss of vision over the past 30 years. Taking advantage of adaptive technologies such as video magnifiers and computer screen readers, she completed a Ph.D. in Oceanography in 1988 and took up a post-doctoral scholarship at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. She was appointed to the permanent Scientific Staff in 1990, earned tenure in 1999, and was promoted to Senior Scientist in 2005. For the past four years, Amy has served as Chair of the Department of Physical Oceanography at WHOI.  She studies the deep ocean currents of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, including their role in Earth’s climate system.


Christopher Woodfill wearing glasses and looking into the camera

Christopher Woodfill

Associate Executive Director, Helen Keller National Center

Chris Woodfill is DeafBlind with Usher Syndrome. He is the Associate Executive Director at Helen Keller National Center (HKNC). He was formerly an educator of Deaf children and youths for a total of 16 years before starting to work at HKNC about ten years ago. He has been involved in both the Deaf and DeafBlind communities at local, state, national, and international levels for almost three decades now. He is currently the North American representative on the World Federation of the DeafBlind board. He is currently training for a Certificate in Rehabilitation Leadership (CRL).


Sara B. Coleman smiling into the camera and wearing glasses

Sara B. Coleman

SB Coleman Consulting LLC

Sara is an educator and consultant with deep expertise in science education and STEM, with 35 years teaching 7th grade through college courses, including professional development for teachers in mentoring and assessment. As a deafblind woman, Sara’s interests culminated in the doctoral dissertation “The Life Trajectories of Women with Sensory and Mobility Disabilities in STEM”, which shows the critical importance for people with disabilities to be accommodated and supported, especially during periods of educational transition to accomplish success in the fields of their choice.


Dr. Sile O'Modhrain

Dr. Sile O’Modhrain

Associate Professor of Performing Arts Technology, University of Michigan

Dr. Sile O’Modhrain is an associate professor at the University of Michigan where she holds a joint appointment in the Performing Arts Technology (PAT) program in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance, and in the School of Information. Her research focuses on human-computer interaction, especially interfaces incorporating haptic and auditory feedback. She earned her master’s degree in music technology from the University of York and her PhD from Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). She has also worked as a sound engineer and producer for BBC Network Radio. In 1994, she received a Fulbright scholarship, and went to Stanford to develop a prototype haptic interface augmenting graphical user interfaces for blind computer users. For the past eight years, she has been working with Brent Gillespie and Alex Russamanno to design and build a full-page tactile array to support the display of braille and tactile graphics.


For event questions, you can email mfu@helenkeller.org