CYBER.ORG launches Project Access, a national effort to increase access to cybersecurity education for students with disabilities

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CISA-funded program will enable blind and visually impaired students to learn about cybersecurity and explore potential careers in the industry

BOSSIER CITY, Louisiana, June 27, 2022–(BUSINESS WIRE)–CYBER.ORG today announced the launch of Access to the project, a program designed to expand access to cybersecurity education for blind and visually impaired students ages 13-21 who are transitioning pre-employment (Pre-ETS). Through the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s Cybersecurity Education and Training Assistance Program (CETAP) grant, CYBER.ORG is launching a series of camps this summer in Arkansas, Maine, Virginia and Michigan to introduce blind and visually impaired students to key cybersecurity topics, help them develop cybersecurity skills, and explore the possibility of a career in a growing industry.

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The United States is currently facing a shortfall of nearly 714,000 cybersecurity professionals, and it has never been more important to invest in training the next generation of students of diverse backgrounds and abilities to fill this gap. CYBER.ORG’s mission is to introduce all K-12 learners, regardless of background or ability, to cybersecurity education. Until the Access project, there was no dedicated curriculum to teach blind and visually impaired students cybersecurity.

In collaboration with Virginia Department for the Blind and Visually Impaired (DBVI), CYBER.ORG piloted the program in 2017 to develop an accessible curriculum for the blind and visually impaired that educators could use to teach cybersecurity and help students build confidence in the field. Virginia’s DBVI programming has 94% of participating students plan to study cybersecurity in college, get cybersecurity degrees, or go straight into the cybersecurity workforce.

Using non-visual techniques, the program is accessible to students without prior computer or technology experience and provides opportunities for hands-on learning and STEM career exploration for those with secondary disabilities.

“We are excited to launch Project Access and continue to build on the success we have had with blind and visually impaired students in Virginia to increase cybersecurity knowledge and access to cybersecurity education at the University. nationwide,” said Dr. Chuck Gardner, Associate Director of CYBER.ORG. . “By lowering the barriers to cybersecurity education, we’ve created a one-of-a-kind program to enable students to develop their cybersecurity confidence and skills, while working towards careers in the industry.”

With guidance and supervision from CYBER.ORG, local educators will lead Linux and robotics summer camps in Arkansas, Maine, Virginia, and Michigan. Robotics camp students will learn basic coding skills, robot assembly, circuit building, and best practices for cybersecurity applications. Students in Linux camps will learn how networks and web servers work, how to set up a server, the structure of computer networks, and how to determine if websites are 508 compliant. Students in all camps will have the opportunity to meet and learn from cybersecurity professionals.

“We are always focused on trying to find opportunities for students that help break down the misconceptions these students and others have about their blindness and their career prospects,” said Carol Jenkins, assistant director of services at Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (NCBVI). “When we find strong programming in the STEAM field where our population is so often underrepresented, we embrace it enthusiastically. CYBER.ORG workshops and programs are intentionally designed and allow independence for each student.”

This year’s camps are taking place in four different states:

  • Virginia Linux Camp – June 27 to July 1

  • Arkansas Robotics Camp – July 18 to July 22

  • Maine Robotics Camp – July 25 to July 29

  • Michigan Linux Camp – August 1 to August 5

“Our partnership with CYBER.ORG has kickstarted the development of a fully accessible cyber program,” said Tish Harris, coordinator of pre-ETS and career pathways at the Virginia Department for the Blind and Visually Impaired. “We are confident that Project Access will inspire more opportunities for students with disabilities in different states to access and pursue cybersecurity training.”

As Project Access continues to grow, CYBER.ORG seeks other partner states interested in providing accessible cybersecurity camps for blind and visually impaired students. Visit www.cyber.org/initiative/project-access or contact [email protected] to learn more.

About CYBER.ORG

CYBER.ORG, formerly the National Integrated Cyber ​​Education Research Center (NICERC), is a cybersecurity workforce development organization that targets K-12 students with cyber career awareness , educational resources and teacher professional development. The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) supports CYBER.ORG through a grant from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to develop and distribute free cybersecurity educational content to educators across the country. Currently, more than 25,000 teachers in all 50 states and four US territories are registered with the CYBER.ORG content platform. For more information, please visit http://www.cyber.org.

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contacts

Strategic HR for CYBER.ORG
[email protected]

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