University of Maryland


The Trace Center appoints Dr. Jonathan Lazar as Associate Director

February 11th, 2019
Jonathan Lazar

Jonathan Lazar, Ph.D., Associate Director

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Jonathan Lazar to the University of Maryland, and to his new position as Associate Director of the Trace Center. His arrival comes just as the Trace Center begins a new and exciting Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) focused on inclusive information and communication technology, which Dr. Lazar helped plan,” said Dr. Gregg Vanderheiden, Trace Center Director.

“I am thrilled to be joining the leadership team of the Trace Center. The research and development work of the Trace Center has improved the quality of life for millions of people, by making the technologies that we use on a daily basis, including operating systems, web content, and kiosks, accessible for people with disabilities,” Dr. Lazar said.

Dr. Lazar is widely known for the numerous contributions he has made to the field of human-computer interaction (HCI), with a focus on the accessibility of digital technologies and content, user-centered design methods, and law and public policy related to accessibility and HCI.  Dr. Lazar comes to the Trace Center from Towson University where he served as a Professor of Computer and Information Sciences for 19 years, including 14 years as director of the Information Systems program. His PhD in Information Systems was earned 20 years ago, and he recently completed an LL.M. degree at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where his studies focused on disability rights law.

“The Trace Center has been a constant pioneer in the movement of accessibility research into mainstream technologies, directly impacting the lives of so many people,” says Dr. Shari Trewin, Chair of the ACM Special Interest Group on Accessible Computing (ACM SIGACCESS) and member of IBM Accessibility Leadership.  “Dr. Lazar is a passionate advocate for people with disabilities with great experience in both technology and policy. They are a perfect match!”

Dr. Clayton Lewis, Emeritus Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, also speaks to the impact of Dr. Lazar’s move to the Trace Center: “Professor Jonathan Lazar’s appointment as Associate Director of Trace is a very exciting development. Progress in accessibility for people with disabilities isn’t just a matter of technical work, but also requires attention to the evolution of policy and law. Together, Professors Vanderheiden and Lazar are likely the single team on earth best qualified to promote these developments.  Professor Lazar’s prodigious record as a scholar (twelve books and counting) will enhance Trace’s already world-leading standing as a force for progress and social inclusion. Congratulations to all concerned!”

“The Trace Center, under the leadership of Dr. Gregg Vanderheiden, has helped set the foundation for the theory and practice of digital accessibility internationally, and remains an indispensable contributor to understanding and addressing the needs of users with disabilities as technology evolves,” says Judy Brewer, Director of the Web Accessibility Initiative at the World Wide Web Consortium.  “The appointment of Dr. Jonathan Lazar as Associate Director brings a wealth of additional research and expertise in computer science, human rights, and disability rights law at a time when the need to advance accessible technology for people with disabilities, in an increasingly complex digital environment, is greater than ever.”

In addition to his duties as Associate Director of Trace, Dr. Lazar will serve as co-investigator of the $4.625 million, five-year Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) grant the Trace Center received from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) (link is external), part of the Administration for Community Living (link is external), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (link is external).  Along with Principal Investigator Dr. Gregg Vanderheiden and co-investigators Drs. J. Bern Jordan, Hernisa Kacorri, and Amanda Lazar (no relation to Dr. Jonathan Lazar), the RERC will anticipate and develop strategies to address and eliminate new accessibility barriers in future generations of information and communication technology.