Pacific Alliance: STEM Postsecondary Education for People with Disabilities

Pacific Alliance

for Supporting Individuals with Disabilities (IWD) in STEM Fields Partnership

Goals and Outcomes

The goal of the Pacific Alliance for Supporting Individuals with Disabilities (IWD) in STEM Fields Partnership (Pacific Alliance) is to increase the numbers of IWD in STEM postsecondary education programs and ultimately the STEM workforce in Hawai‘i.

Proposed outcomes are:

Increased graduation rates in degreed programs (associate, baccalaureate, and graduate degrees)

Increased rates of graduates (high school, associate, baccalaureate, and graduate) entering STEM employment

Evidence based, student-centered practices will be explored to address four categories of barriers to increasing STEM participation and progress in STEM fields: (1) disability (e.g., physical access and lack of academic and career accommodations); (2) self-empowerment/exploration (e.g., perceived lack of ability to succeed, and lack of awareness and opportunities in STEM); (3) academics (e.g., lack of basic academic skills, lack of academic supports, advising, and accommodations, and insufficient course content success in STEM courses); and (4) career/employment (e.g., physical, communication, and visual access to job responsibilities and lack of knowledge of work specific accommodations).

Goals and Benefits

Goal of Pacific Alliance

To significantly increase the number of Individuals with Disabilities (IWD) in STEM postsecondary education programs and the STEM workforce in Hawai‘i.

Pacific Alliance Staff will support Disability Students Services Providers and STEM faculty at the University of Hawaii to enhance opportunities for students with disabilities to improve their grades, stay in college, and matriculate in STEM programs by:

  • Build basic academic skills in reading, mathematics, and writing via academic tutors;
  • Recruit and train tutors in STEM specific tutoring;
  • Develop Personalized Plans to address students with disabilities individualized STEM needs; and/or
  • Build internship program; and
  • Facilitate entry, if desired, into advanced degree programs.
  • Develop Participant (student) individualized plans;
  • Provide mentor training;
  • Facilitate mentor/mentee collaborations;
  • Provide guidance on accommodation needs and self-advocacy skills;
  • Provide information and use on assistive technology; and/or
  • Collaborate with a STEM area role model.

Specifically relating AT to STEM fields.

  • Learn about careers from employees in STEM careers;
  • Facilitate internship relationships; and
  • Pave the way for IWD in STEM programs to enter the STEM workforce.

Contact Dr. Kiriko Takahashi to connect and learn more:

How the University of Hawai‘i will Benefit:

University of Hawaii

  • Increased enrollment of IWD from high schools on O‘ahu in STEM degree programs.
  • Increased graduation rates (associate, baccalaureate, and graduate degrees) for STEM students with disabilities by 10% per year.
  • Increased employment rates of Alliance graduates, including those with associate degrees, into STEM employment by 5%.

Learn More


View the abstract for the project: Pacific Alliance for Supporting Individuals with Disabilities in STEM Fields

Award Information

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. HRD #09-29079. For information about the Pacific Alliance contact Dr. Kiriko Takahashi at or Dr. Hye Jin Park at

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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