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Grand Challenges: Maryland Initiative for Digital Accessibility

Grant Type: Impact Award
Topics: Ethical Technology and Social Justice

Grand Challenges Grants Program


The world of digital technologies and content is designed to meet the needs of the average person, often creating inaccessibility for people with disabilities. That means that over 20% of people are structurally excluded from education, employment, and healthcare. The Maryland Initiative for Digital Accessibility (MIDA) will make technology accessible and help make the world more inclusive of and for people with disabilities.

The goal of MIDA is to change technology design research and practice so that it involves the disability community as an equal partner, accessibility is proactively built-in, and technology is “born-accessible.” Successfully transforming technology research and development to be born-accessible and sustainable requires the involvement and advocacy, from the beginning, of disability rights groups as equal partners with academic researchers and with technology companies.

The connections between these communities and strong interdisciplinary and cross-sector teams of experts, will create more effective, more impactful R&D projects on accessibility.

These projects will make more digital technologies and content accessible for people with disabilities and create technologies that may alleviate inaccessibility in the physical world, leading to fewer structural barriers, more inclusion in society, better educational outcomes, and employment success for people with disabilities.

Leadership Team:

Jonathan Lazar
PI: Jonathan Lazar (INFO), Professor, Information Studies
Paul Jaeger
Co-PI: Paul Jaeger (INFO), Professor, Information Studies
Galina Reitz
MIDA Associate Director of Higher Education: Galina Reitz (INFO), Senior Lecturer and Faculty Director, Information Studies
Gulnoza Yakubova
Co-PI: Gulnoza Yakubova (EDUC), Assistant Professor, Special Education
Ana Palla
Co-PI: Ana Palla (DIT/SPH), Senior IT Accessibility and UX Specialist and Lecturer, School of Public Health
J. Bern Jordan
Co-PI: J. Bern Jordan (INFO), Assistant Research Scientist, Information Studies

Campus Collaborators:

Additional faculty and staff members from across campus who will collaborate in MIDA include:

iSchool: Elizabeth Bonsignore, Eun Kyoung Choe, Tamara Clegg, Niklas Elmqvist, Jinjuan Heidi Feng, Ge Gao, Amelia Gibson, Ursula Gorham, Kate Izsak, Ron Padron, Galina Reitz, Victoria Van Hyning
College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences: Huaishu Peng, Abhinav Shrivastava
A. James Clark School of Engineering: Monifa Vaughn-Cooke
College of Education: Yewon Lee, David Weintrop
College of Arts and Humanities: Shevaun Lewis
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences: Kathy Dow-Burger, Lacey Curry, Eric Hoover, Yi Ting Huang, Eusebia Mont, Lisa Rickard
School of Public Health: Elizabeth Aparicio, Shannon Jette, Sara Olsen
University Libraries: Nedelina Tchangalova
University Career Center: Nancy Forsythe
ADA Compliance Officer: Emily Lucio
TerpsEXCEED Program: Amy Dwyre D'Agati


UMD Leads Projects Aimed at Career Support, Accessibility for People with Disabilities (Insight Into Diversity)

January 2024

Jonathan Lazar Gives Closing Keynote Speech About the Born-Accessible Model at the INTERACT Conference

December 5, 2023

A New Way to Make Digital Technology Accessible to All

November 13, 2023

Grand Challenges: MIDA Informs Public Policy on Technology Accessibility for People With Disabilities

October 24, 2023

Stephanie Valencia-Valencia Explores How Large Language Models Can Accommodate People with Disabilities

October 23, 2023

Recent Study Finds People with Dementia Use Changing Information Behaviors when Seeking Health Information

September 19, 2023

An Ally for Access: Palm-sized Robot Navigates Touchscreens for Visually Impaired Users

September 15, 2023

Colleges Must Embrace Accessibility Post-Pandemic, Say Experts (Ed Scoop)

July 25, 2023

Maryland Initiative for Digital Accessibility (MIDA) Launches

July 21, 2023


  • National Federation of the Blind
  • National Association of the Deaf
  • American Association of People with Disabilities
  • Easterseals
  • Teach Access
  • Disability Rights Maryland
  • The Maryland Image Center
  • Maryland Library for the Blind and Print Disabled
  • The Maryland Technology Assistance Program (MDTAP)
  • Blind Industries and Services of Maryland
  • The Down Syndrome Association of Maryland
  • Gallaudet University
  • Adobe
  • Microsoft
  • Meta
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