How a CSU dynamic duo blazed a trail for inclusion
Adam Campfield was the first blind person to graduate with a degree in applied computing technology at Colorado State University, thanks in part to the support from Elaine Regelson, former director of mentoring and retention in the Department of Computer Science.
Adam Campfield lost his vision to retinoblastoma, a cancer of the retina, in the first eye at 18 months and the second at age six. This, however, never slowed him down.
In 2015 Campfield became the first blind person to graduate with a degree in Applied Computing Technology: Human Factors at Colorado State University. He did so with support from Elaine Regelson, former director of mentoring and retention in the Department of Computer Science. Now, he serves as senior manager of accessibility at Spectrum, a broadband connectivity company, where his work impacts millions of people with disabilities nationwide.
As a child, Campfield’s parents were adamant that he try everything he was curious about, so he downhill skied, took martial arts, played multiple musical instruments and studied computer science at CSU. As the first blind person in the department, Campfield served as trailblazer for future students like him.
Enter Regelson, well known for her compassion and personability, who took it upon herself to be Adam’s champion as he navigated campus, calculus, coding and challenging coursework.
“I would never have made it through the degree without Elaine,” said Adam. “We met within the first hour of me moving onto campus, and she became such an enormous advocate on my behalf.”
Regelson attended class with Adam, traced code onto his palms, acquired materials in brail and dedicated a room in the Computer Science Building as the assistive learning office.
“Adam was amazing,” said Elaine. “I was very impressed with his attitude. We got along really well.”
At risk for other cancers due to the retinoblastoma, Adam took breaks from school to recover. He started at CSU in August 2007 and graduated in December 2015.
“I did not have the ability or the spare energy to advocate for myself, and Elaine was always there to facilitate things and make things work,” he said. She was by Adam’s side for the near eight years he attended CSU.
Campfield is now married, and his work with application accessibility at Spectrum, a company with a residential customer base of 30 million, directly impacts an estimated few million customers given that the CDC estimates 26% of adults have a disability.
“My job is to make tech better for people, to make sure everyone can use it,” Campfield said. “I get to know that I am advocating for literally millions of people and for the cause of inclusion itself. That keeps me going back every day.”
Campfield credits much of his understanding of the world today to Elaine Regelson.
“I couldn’t be doing the job I have now without the things that Elaine taught me,” he said. “She set me up for success in this job in ways I didn’t even see coming. There is not a week that goes by where I don’t use something she taught me, and usually, it’s not even a day.”