An Access Award for a UMD Prof

Jun 21, 2021

Creating a more compassionate, inclusive, and accessible world

UMD's John O'Neill, a 2021-2022 Curriculum Development Awardee

In celebration of the 10th annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), Teach Access has announced that UMD's John O'Neill, assistant professor of graphic design, will receive one of the 15 Teach Access Curriculum Development Awards for 2021-2022.  O'Neill will use his $5,000 award to develop modules, presentations, exercises, or curriculum enhancements or changes that introduce the fundamental concepts and skills of accessible design and development.

photo of John O'Neill

John O'Neill

Teach Access encourages classroom-based courses that will help close the accessible technology skills gap that the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) identified in 2018. PEAT's mission is to foster collaborations in the technology space that build inclusive workplaces for people with disabilities. Their vision is a future where new and emerging technologies are accessible to the workforce by design.

These awards are made possible through funding from Teach Access industry members. Teach Access members include dozens of universities and industry leaders including Microsoft, Linkedin, Oracle, Facebook and others.

Support for UMD Students

The support from Teach Access will be used to redesign the entire curriculum for Graphic Design V, the most advanced interactive design course in the Graphic Design program at UMD. The course is for students who are in their last semester before graduating with their BFA design. The grant will fund the purchase of assistive technology so students can learn how to best design websites and apps.

The funding will purchase screen readers and magnifiers such as JAWS and iZoom, voice recognition, optical character, and reading machine software like Dragon, DocuScan, and PEARL. It will also be used to buy a refreshable braille display to understand how people may read content with braille. The money will also be used to obtain keyboards, rollerballs, joysticks, and mouses made for people who have hand motor disabilities.

The Teach Access Impact

O'Neill and the other awardees were chosen from all the applicants because they possessed the largest impact, had the strongest outreach plans, were the most sustainable, and had clearly laid out evaluation plans. The faculty chosen represented geographic diversity across the United States.

Teach Access is a unique collaboration among members of higher education, the technology Industry and advocates for accessibility.

O'Neill's work for The Awareness Campaign has been recognized for design excellence by publications such as Graphic Design USA and Creative Quarterly. In spring 2017, the work was featured in HOW magazine as a merit winner for their annual international design competition. His work also won two international awards from the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals. The image above is one of O'Neill's projects for the 2017 campaign.