CISA-funded project empowers students with disabilities to learn about cybersecurity

Cybersecurity workforce development organization CYBER.ORG on Monday announced the launch of Project Access, a nationwide effort to provide cybersecurity education to blind and visually impaired students.

With funding from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s Cybersecurity Education and Training Assistance Program (CETAP), the program will include a series of summer camps designed to introduce students aged 13 to 21 years in key cybersecurity topics and helping them develop skills that will enable them to pursue potential careers in the industry.

The program was piloted in 2017 in collaboration with Virginia’s Department for the Blind and Visually Impaired (DBVI), to create a cybersecurity program for the blind and visually impaired. Ninety-four percent of students participating in Virginia’s DBVI programming have expressed an interest in pursuing education and careers in cybersecurity.

Non-visual techniques will be used with students without prior IT or technology experience, while those with secondary disabilities will have access to hands-on learning opportunities and STEM career exploration.

Under the supervision of CYBER.ORG, local teachers will lead Linux summer camps in Virginia (June 27-July 1) and Michigan (August 1-August 5), and robotics summer camps in Arkansas (July 18 to July 22) and in Maine (July 25 to 29). Students will also meet cybersecurity professionals.

In Linux camps, students will learn network and server operations, how to set up servers, and how to check websites for 508 compliance. In robotics camps, students will learn basic coding skills, circuit building, robot assembly and best practices for cybersecurity applications.

“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,” Carol Jenkins, Deputy Director of Commission Services of Nebraska for the Blind and Visually Impaired (NCBVI), said.

“When we find strong programming in the STEAM field where our population is so often underrepresented, we embrace it enthusiastically. CYBER.ORG’s workshops and programs are intentionally designed and empower each student’s independence,” continued Jenkins.

Related: New Mexico Lawmakers Propose $45 Million School Cybersecurity Fund

Related: US Infrastructure Bill Allocates $2 Billion To Cybersecurity

Related: Targeting Remote Learning: Defending Against Cyberattacks in Our Schools

Ionut Argire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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