Schultz recognized as digital accessibility advocate

By Peter Murphy

Published June 7, 2024

Andrew Schultz, associate professor of research in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, received a 2024 Digital Accessibility Advocate Award from the UB Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). 


The awards recognize those at UB who eliminate digital accessibility barriers and expand digital access and inclusion for people with disabilities, and the review committee is made up of people from EDI, Accessibility Resources and the Office of Inclusive Excellence.

Schultz worked to develop accessible web applications to replace paper-based processes throughout the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the university.

“Web applications are powerful tools we can use to save time and scale up workflows to thousands of students, but that is lost if someone can’t use the application,” Schultz says. “I find it frustrating when I have trouble using a website because the developer did not do something as simple as check that the site worked with my browser or platform. How much more frustrating it must be for someone who can’t use a site because of something equally simple like unlabeled form fields or improper headings.”

Andrew Schultz.

Andrew Schultz

Schultz, who is also a member of the SEAS Office of Academic Affairs, worked with units and departments across the school to revamp some of its most heavily used web applications, including course flowsheets and the SEAS portal. Each of these applications are essential for students in most academic programs. The portal serves as a collection of academic planning tools and the flowsheets are interactive guides with a semester-by-semester outline of courses within a curriculum. Thousands of students in several departments utilize these tools on a regular basis.

While Schultz’s academic and professional experience is in chemical engineering, he does not see his work as all that different from the administrative web applications he has developed.

“My background involves using computers to conduct molecular simulations, but I’ve also developed graphical molecular simulation applications targeted at graduate and undergraduate students and created web applications to disseminate some of my research results more broadly,” Schultz says.

Schultz has also collaborated with UB’s undergraduate education, registrar and student success offices to make the university’s academic dismissal appeal and academic withdrawal systems more accessible.

“I developed an application to handle appeals of dismissals for all UB undergraduates. The application allows students to submit a brief statement as text or an upload,” Schultz says. “I’m working on a similar application to accept petitions for withdrawal from UB that lets students upload documentation and routes the petition to the various people who need to review it. Both processes are stressful for students, and so, having a site that works cleanly and is accessible is important.”

The academic dismissal and withdrawal processes are the latest that Schultz has developed for the university. He previously served as lead developer on the platform that all faculty members use to submit grades changes and developed the TAURUS Articulation Request System for transfer students.