The previous year, 2015, was a big year with major implications. ASEE named the 2014-2015 academic year was named the Year of Action on Diversity, emphasizing that engineers and engineering students are a diverse population. 2015 was also the twenty-fifth anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which called for the inclusion of disabled people in all facets of society, including access to higher education. Combining these two major factors are the increasing calls for inclusion and diversity on college campuses nationwide. There are many different identities that have been researched in regards to their representation in the field of engineering; gender, race, veteran status, and, more recently, sexual orientation have been the focus of major research efforts. Disabled people comprise one of the least recognized and largest minority groups, both in the United States and worldwide. People who identify as disabled, however, have not yet received the same manner of coverage.
This paper combines the history of the disability rights movement with engineering education by posing the question, “What are the current perspectives of disability that is communicated through ASEE conference proceedings?” Influencing this work are recent calls for inclusion and diversity within higher education practices, as well as the idea that engineering education can strive to not only find solutions to design problems, but can be used to achieve social justice.
This paper adds to the discussion of underrepresented identities within engineering fields. With the disability rights slogan, “Nothing about us, without us” in mind, a literature search of ASEE national conference proceedings from 2015 backwards to 2010 (the twentieth anniversary of the ADA) was performed to investigate how the field of engineering education already intersects with disability issues.
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