Jacqueline Gibson is building change from the code up.
Jacqueline decided her future was in coding when she attended UT’s First Bytes summer camp. She was inspired by the power it gave her. Today, she is an advocate for inclusive code and tech that considers all users. As an undergrad, Jacqueline worked at Microsoft during the summers. For the past two years, she has been working on what she calls her “dream team,” building a new accessibility product that just went public. After graduating with degrees in Computer Science and African and African Diaspora Studies, she plans to return to Microsoft full-time to continue this work.
What do you hope will be your mark on the world after graduation?
I have always been inspired by the Shirley Chisholm quote, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” It is my hope that my legacy, not only on the Forty Acres but in the world, is that I have fought to create inclusion and community in spaces where there was none. For me, it is not enough to bring a chair for yourself; you have to make space for others to join as well and make their voices heard.
What does inclusion look like in computer science?
In my opinion, inclusion looks like “diversity at the table.” I think everyone should be able to use technology independently. I think the industry overall has not historically recognized the importance of universal usability, but everyone stands to benefit from it. Many times you create something that’s accessible and everyone uses it. Take speech dictation, right? I use that all the time. I have use of my hands, but it’s still really useful. I’m seeing an interesting push in the tech field where people are considering a diversity of users, not just as an add-on, but a benefit.
How are you contributing?
My team at Microsoft created software that scans webpages and finds accessibility issues. Our tool empowers other developers to produce code that is inclusive. So if you’re someone with low vision or no vision and are trying to scan a webpage, instead of it just spitting out gibberish to you, with the tool, it will now be usable content.
Excellence and accessibility
The University of Texas at Austin shares Gibson’s commitment to inclusion, and makes many academic and community resources available to students of color, including:
- The Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence, which houses academic success and leadership programs
- The Multicultural Engagement Center, which provides advising and support and houses student agencies
- More than 1,300 sponsored student organizations, including honors associations, clubs and fraternities/sororities
First-years also participate in special learning communities that help them make a successful transition into college, connect with professors and meet other students.
Beyond the freshman year, students benefit from ongoing support, no matter their needs. Each of the 13 undergraduate colleges and schools staffs its own career center to provide students with major- and field-specific advice, while the university’s Sanger Learning Center offers one-on-one support to help students reach their academic potential.
That potential flourishes in The University of Texas at Austin’s environment of academic excellence. Competitively ranked programs, a world-class faculty and outstanding facilities offer students the opportunity to participate in a rich history of world-changing scholarship at a university named the No. 14 public school in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.