Increasing Participation of People with Disabilities at Engineering Research Centers

Achievement date: 

The Center for Neurotechnology (CNT), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) at the University of Washington (UW), partnered with the University’s Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology (DO-IT) Center to launch the AccessERC initiative to increase the participation of students and researchers with disabilities at ERCs.


The nationwide program engages ERCs through conferences and online communities to create products and activities accessible to everyone. It provides a platform for people with disabilities to share their unique perspectives and influence how their needs can be addressed in the classroom, in the lab, and through research goals and thrusts.


Much of CNT’s research is conducted with the goal of improving the lives of people with disabilities through novel technologies and therapies. AccessERC is unique in that it specifically targets how to increase their participation as part of ERC research teams. It serves to address how facilities and activities can accommodate people with varying needs.

AccessERC is highlighted by its conferences like the Capacity Building Institute at UW. It is a rare opportunity for many ERC members across the country to meet with the disabled community and have meaningful conversations about their lives. The conferences have resulted in the creation and dissemination of material on diversity and inclusion of disabled researchers at ERCs.