In inclusive institutions of higher education no student should be an afterthought

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Jeanne L. Higbee

University of Minnesota General College

In inclusive institutions of higher education no student should be an afterthought. Thus, it is only natural that postsecondary disability service providers have embraced the concept of Universal Design, which proposes that spaces be planned at the outset to meet the needs of all potential users. Accommodation and inclusion are very different notions. When a student's family is provided with a van tour of the campus while the rest of the orientation group walks, when a student is able to view a famous celebrity giving a speech in an inaccessible lecture hall by watching from a remote site via television, or when a student is noticeably absent from the classroom every time a test is given because the student needs extended time, the student is accommodated, but excluded.

The purpose of this book is to introduce readers to the concepts of Universal Design (UD) and Universal Instructional Design (UID). This collection of essays addresses learning both within and outside the classroom, recognizing the role higher education plays in developing the “whole” person (American Council on Education, 1937, 1949; National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, 1989). Chapters authored by faculty members are intended to provide insights into teaching strategies that can be implemented in a variety of disciplines. It is hoped that these ideas will be helpful to both disabilities services staff members and faculty when exploring how to create universal learning experiences. Similarly, concepts introduced in the student affairs section of this book can be applied to multiple student services. This book is available free of charge online ( or as well as in hard copy so that individual chapters can be downloaded for purposes of discussion and for use in faculty and staff development.

The book begins with Johnson and Fox's introduction to the history and basic principles of UD and UID. Then Fox, Hatfield, and Collins describe the Curriculum Transformation and Disability (CTAD) model for providing professional development activities to prepare faculty and staff to implement Universal Instructional Design, followed by Hatfield’s qualitative study of perceptions of Universal Design. Schuck and Larson discuss the role community colleges play in providing access to postsecondary education for all students, and particularly for students with disabilities. They explain the attributes of community colleges that facilitate the implementation of Universal Design and Universal Instructional Design, as well as the unique challenges for both faculty and student development professionals when the student body is diverse and resources are scarce. Schuck and Larson emphasize the key role professional development plays in enabling institutions to implement UD and UID.

The second section of the book consists of chapters by CTAD participants and other faculty members who have been instrumental in developing curricula that meet the educational needs of all learners. These authors describe how they have created more inclusive classroom environments. Pedelty discusses the value of going beyond the usual syllabus statement to communicate to students that he is interested in providing equal access to his classroom. Pedelty relates how addressing issues of access on the first day of class has stimulated students' disclosure of hidden disabilities, and the impact that this communication has had on his teaching and on all students' learning. Next Jehangir explores the role learning communities can play in implementing Universal Design and Universal Instructional Design.

Bruch provides a theoretical perspective for implementing Universal Instructional Design in basic writing. His chapter is followed by McAlexander's practical suggestions for teaching composition in a universally designed classroom. Kinney and Kinney describe how the use of computer-mediated learning in the mathematics classroom can eliminate the need for most individual accommodations. Brothen and Wambach discuss the use of the Personalized System of Instruction (PSI), another computer-assisted model, to teach a universally-designed psychology course. Among the strategies proposed by Ghere for teaching history are simulations that enable students to experience historical events first-hand. Ghere elaborates on how to ensure that students with disabilities do not feel excluded from these activities. Similarly, Miksch engages students in mock trials in her legal studies classroom. Finally, Hatch, Ghere, and Jerik provide a case study that demonstrates how developing accommodations for a student with multiple disabilities

resulted in a more universally-designed educational environment that benefited all students.

The third section of this book focuses on student support services. Kalivoda and Totty provide a brief history of the creation of disability services offices in postsecondary educational institutions and explore the basic functions of those offices. They describe the nine categories of essential services identified in recent research and adopted by the Association for Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD). Next Higbee and Kalivoda discuss the implementation of Universal Design principles in the first-year experience, from admissions and orientation to models for "best practices." This chapter leads naturally to Wisbey and Kalivoda's examination of residence life. The authors address Universal Design as a means to create welcoming living spaces and to provide inclusive social and educational programs. Similarly, Higbee and Eaton discuss both physical facilities and educational programs when considering the implementation of Universal Design in college and university learning centers. Then Uzes and Connelly apply the same principles to counseling centers and provide case studies that demonstrate that students with disabilities face the same developmental tasks as all students, but may have to overcome additional obstacles in approaching these tasks.

The final section of the book provides the reader with further resources. Kalivoda and Totty's chapter describes the technology available to make it possible to accommodate students in a wide array of settings. Shapiro addresses web design, with a particular emphasis on web pages that contain content in tabular form, such as the exercises for many business courses. The book concludes with an exploration of the "logical next step," application of Universal Design to multicultural education, by Barajas and Higbee. The appendices include a list of assistive technologies, an extensive bibliography, and brief biographies for the authors.

The Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy (CRDEUL) and the authors of this collection would like to thank the U.S. Department of Education and the University of Minnesota General College (GC) and Office of Disability Services, and specifically David Taylor, Dean of GC, and Terence Collins, GC Director of Academic Affairs, for their support of "Curriculum Transformation and Disability," the project that introduced so many of us to the tenets of Universal Design and Universal Instructional Design. As editor, I personally want to express my appreciation to Dean Taylor and Professor Collins, as well as to Judy Fox, Coordinator of the CTAD grant, to Dana Britt Lundell, Director of CRDEUL, and to Karen S. Kalivoda, Director of Disability Services at the University of Georgia, for encouraging me to compile this collection of essays in order to disseminate the work of CTAD more broadly. In addition, the authors and I would like to express our appreciation to Stan Carpenter, Chair, and the members of the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) Media board for their feedback.

Finally, I want to express my gratitude to the chapter authors, not only for their contributions to this book, but for their efforts in developing welcoming postsecondary learning experiences for all students. And there is one last group I feel compelled to recognize, although for reasons of confidentiality I cannot name them. I want to thank the many students I have worked with over the years—you know who you are—at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (where as an inexperienced graduate student coordinating the learning services program within the counseling center prior to the advent of learning centers, I was a major source of frustration to a student who could only sit erect for a couple hours per day due to a spinal injury when I tried to use traditional methods to teach time management and note taking strategies), Western Maryland College (including my thanks to my many students with hearing impairments, to the student coping with his loss of vision, and to one incredibly talented resident assistant who taught the members of the administration and her fellow students--who would have discriminated against her on the basis of her disability--that a person with epilepsy can be an outstanding RA), at the University of Georgia (with special thanks to the guy who could not find his way back to Athens from the Atlanta bus terminal and to the young woman who overcame incredible odds to conquer math and to find her niche at the University), and at the University of Minnesota (with thanks to both the student and the interpreter who introduced me to real time captioning on my very first day of teaching at the U). You know that I have not forgotten you and the many lessons that you have taught me!


American Council on Education (1937). The student personnel point of view. Washington, DC: Author.

American Council on Education (1949). The student personnel point of view (rev. ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (1989). Points of view. Washington, DC: Author.

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