Just as I did last summer, I browsed through the list of computer science REUs listed here to figure out possible research sites for this summer. While I was reading through Rochester Institute of Technology’s computer science REU, I noticed something unique about their award abstract:

[…] With specific recruiting efforts that target underrepresented groups such as women, minorities, and persons with disabilities, especially deaf and hard-of-hearing students, this REU program also aims to increase the size and diversity of the scientific workforce.

Most of these REUs embody the NSF’s commitment to increasing diversity among the next generation of scientists. In almost all cases, however, these award abstracts do this by encouraging women and minorities to apply. There are a handful that mention disabilities, though, but only RIT’s site specifically mentions deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

While it is a bit frustrating to me, it does make sense for convenience. In the United States, according to this and this,

  1. Women compose roughly 50 percent of the population.
  2. African Americans, Latin Americans, and Native Americans compose roughly 30 percent of the population.
  3. People with disabilities in the late teens and young adult group compose roughly 5-8 percent of the same aged population.

I had to approximate a bit with #3, but it’s clear that it’s a minority even compared to #2. And then there an extraordinary number of subdivisions of disabled people, and even then a range of severity for each kind. It is best to conflate these into one general category, but I do wish that institutions trying to promote diversity would add on the category of disabled people to women and minorities.

By the way, I didn’t apply to the linked REU at RIT. Their grant money apparently ran out in 2012 and the NSF didn’t renew it. Perhaps they will reconsider this year.