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Learning from Successful Deque University Scholarship Recipients

In June of 2019, Deque reached a significant milestone: we have awarded over 2,000 Deque University scholarships to people with disabilities! (We are currently at 2030 and counting.) These scholarships were introduced in 2016 in support of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The main purpose of these scholarships is to increase job opportunities for people with disabilities by providing them with free access to high-quality accessibility skills training. The accessibility career track is a promising one, and people with disabilities are uniquely qualified through their life experiences to enter into this field. They just need the technical training, and that is what Deque University provides.

Our courses are free to scholarship recipients, and are designed to be fully accessible to people with disabilities and assistive technologies, helping overcome cost and access barriers that limit the usefulness of other skills training programs to people with disabilities.

With the intention of inspiring action for potential future scholarship recipients, I’d like to dedicate the rest of this post to sharing quotes and stories we’ve heard over the last three years.

Thank you to all the amazing scholarship recipients for your dedication to the materials and for sharing your kind words and feedback. Thank you to everyone else for helping spread the word about the availability of the scholarship program.

What’s the Deque University Scholarship Program

If you have a disability, you qualify for a scholarship to access to Deque’s in-depth web accessibility curriculum for a full year (normally $315) at no cost.

Why is Deque offering this scholarship? Here are a few of our reasons:

  • The demand for accessibility professionals is growing. People with disabilities have a lot to offer in this field. You live the experience, so in many ways, you’re already experts! You still have to learn the technical skills though, and that’s where the Deque University classes can help.
  • We recognize that employment for people with disabilities is often difficult, with discrimination during the hiring process and barriers to employment all along the way, including barriers to acquiring the skills necessary for employment.
  • Having a disability can often be expensive, both in terms of actual expenses and the cost of lost opportunities due to discrimination.
  • Deque’s mission is to achieve digital equality for all. This a core part of our mission.

David Sexton’s Success with the Deque University Scholarship

David Sexton headshot

Deque and David have been chatting for a few years now about his climb within the accessibility industry. Thank you, David, for agreeing to share such personal information in hopes of inspiring others to do the same.

In 2016, David came back to the United States after living and traveling in India for six years. He had previously been studying electrical engineering, but instead of pursuing a degree decided to gain life experience by traveling. Being a screen reader user, David came back and applied to accessibility jobs. He applied to Workday, and found that he was familiar with technical terminology like ARIA, but unfamiliar with industry-specific terminologies, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). At that time, he did not receive the job at Workday.

Still seeking employment a year later, David applied to another accessibility subject matter position but was passed over for another applicant. This is when David decided to try to learn more about accessibility. He found the Deque University scholarship and took advantage of its courses. He was able to put vocabulary and terminology together with what he already knew. David approached the same company again, armed with his new knowledge and received a contracted position at $40/hour. The position later turned into a full-time position with benefits.

David was able to obtain this position without being IAAP certified or having a college degree. After eight months at this company, David was hired at Google to work on Chrome and ChromeOS. This position was also contract-based but at $70/hour. A year later, David was hired at Workday with a similar hourly rate but with benefits. David is amazed that with just the help of the Deque University scholarship, he went from being unemployed to a full-time employee.

David is now currently a product manager at Workday. His advice to those starting their accessibility career is to gain experience through contract jobs and leverage the knowledge of Deque University, you don’t need a college degree or an IAAP certification. The demand for accessibility professionals is growing, and it’s a great career opportunity.

More Testimony from Deque University Scholarship Recipients

We surveyed our Deque University scholarship recipients to gain insight into the program’s success. Initial results from the survey are as follows:

  • 72.81% of recipients are preparing for a career in accessibility
  • 65.71% of respondents said they found Deque University very helpful in furthering their career
  • 23.48% of recipients who received this scholarship completed the IAAP’s Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC) certification.

Below are additional testimonials from our scholarship recipients that responded to our survey. Thank you all for sharing!

“In general, I think the course content is very high quality. I like that it is available to go back to later too. I have taken many online classes and so often when I need the content later, it has been taken down.” – Alex Marositz, Assistive Technology Specialist, Pasadena City College

“I think this is an amazing resource and offering a scholarship to users with visual impairments is brilliant. It is inspiring to have free access to knowledge that has helped me develop my career. I also think the blend of courses is well balanced, there’s a course for everyone, irrespective of expertise. Keep up the good work.” – Lu Ogbe

“Although I am not currently working in the accessibility field, the opportunity to study detailed material about accessibility issues and solutions has made me a better, more effective employee.” – Mary Ritter

“It’s a great resource for me. I enjoyed earning the Deque certifications, and I like the fact that you keep updating the content to be more and more relevant.” – Marc Thorson

“I think it’s wonderful that you are providing this service to the disability community. I share this resource with many people I meet who are trying to learn more about making the world more accessible. So often disabled consumers do not know how to explain to developers what is needed in technical terms.” – Eileen Rivera Ley

“The courses are well structured and it was very helpful to complete the CPACC certification.

The additional materials provided at each section helps a lot to understand the topic better.” – Mohith BP, Senior Software Engineer

“Thank you for the CPACC study materials! Extremely helpful. Thank you in general for great courses on accessibility.” – Ron Bissessar, Assistive Technology Manager

“You provide thorough and accessible material and I greatly appreciate your work!” – Joseph LaFauci, Technical Expert, Atos ITO North America

Thank you all!

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