The articles published in the ALERT represent the opinions of the authors and are not an endorsement by the Association or necessarily representative of the views of the Association.
— Campisi Appointment
— Curriculum Transformation
— Accessible Media Guidelines
— Disability Services from a Jesuit Perspective
— "Make Them Go Away": A Book Review
— NCD Youth Advisory Committee Outreach
— Transitions: Retiring a Service Dog
— Disability Simulation
— Mobility International Mini-Grant Winners
— Transition Coalition
From the President
Dear AHEAD Members,
As the Spring semester winds down, AHEAD is well into its busiest time of the year, but I wanted to take a few moments and this last opportunity to encourage those who have not yet signed up for AHEAD 2003 to give the conference some serious thought and attempt to attend. I know Stephan Smith, our Executive Director, is telling in his interview about the convenience, affordability, and amenities of the location, to say nothing about the high-quality programming in store for you at this year's conference. He and the committees have taken every opportunity to make this the conference that more people than ever would have the opportunity to attend.
I want to stress the importance of the conference, importance to the very mission or our members' work. By now, you are quite aware of the conference theme and its goals to extend our focus on our profession toward new conceptions of the field in a rapidly changing and modernizing educational environment. We've been looking at the past few conferences about universal design, especially at design of physical environments and supporting services and technologies. This year, however, the UD Initiative has worked closely with Tom Thompson's Conference Program Committee to put in an entire strand throughout the conference, focusing on universal design of instruction, ending in a spectacular closing plenary session. Education is changing faster than even most educators know, and it is heading in directions that are identifying more inclusive ways of teaching an ever-diverse student body. This trend can be a splendid opportunity for students with disabilities, and you can learn about it and about many other approaches and successes of your peer, AHEAD member session presenters.
Come and advance your profession and refine your vision at AHEAD 2003.
Randy Borst, President
From the Editor
Spring is finally here and summer is just around the corner! I hope you are planning on attending the AHEAD Conference in Texas. There are some articles in this issue that provide detail on what to expect there, as well as calling for volunteers. This is another full issue, with a wide variety of articles ranging from professional development announcements to personal reflections. Given the volume of articles we received for the ALERT this year, and that some announcements were moot by the time our next issue came out, we decided to change the publication schedule. In the coming year we will be publishing the ALERT every two months - please take a look at the new schedule for submissions on the calendar. I would like to extend special thanks to the contributors for helping to make the ALERT such a success this year. If you have any suggestions or comments, please be sure to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Professional Development Calendar
Take advantage of these upcoming events, conferences, and other opportunities to increase and share your knowledge.
Universal Instructional Design (UID) is an approach to designing and offering courses so that they are more accessible and fair to all learners, including those with disabilities. A listserv called "UID-Forum" has been founded at the University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada) to explore the principles of UID and to find ways to implement them. For further information please contact email@example.com or go to www.uid.ca.
Calls for Presentations and Articles:
PEPNet 2004: "Planning for Success: Initiatives for Positive Outcomes."
Check the PEPNet website, www.pepnet.org, for the call for presentations (proposals are due September 15, 2003). The conference will be in Pittsburgh on April 21-24, 2004.
NEW ALERT submission and publication dates:
Given the volume of submissions, and the fact that many items submitted are outdated by the time we publish, we have decided to publish the ALERT every other month. Here is the new schedule for submissions:
Submissions Due: Publication Date:
- August 1, 2003 August 29, 2003
- October 3, 2003 October 31, 2003
- December 1, 2003 December 19, 2003
- January 30, 2004 February 27, 2004
- April 3, 2004 April 24, 2004
- June 5, 2004 June 26, 2004
Please keep those articles coming!
Check out these offerings from our colleagues in the fields of disability and higher education:
The Dean College Institute for Students with Disabilities presents Bridges to College Success Conference -- Addressing Access and Transitions for Students with Disabilities, May 28-29, 2003, in Franklin, Massachusetts. For more information, go to www.dean.edu/specialinterest/institute.html.
15th Annual Postsecondary Disability Training Institute, June 3-7 in Mystic, Connecticut. The objective of this Training Institute is to help concerned professionals meet the unique needs of college students with disabilities. Participants can select from a variety of Strands and Single Sessions taught by experts in the field that provide participants with in-depth information and adequate time for questions and follow-up activities. Participants also have opportunities to share information and network with each other at various activities throughout the week. See www.cped.uconn.edu for more information.
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College is pleased to offer the "SUMMER INSTITUTE: Seeing Students with Disabilities TO and THRU Higher Education," June 4-5, 2003. This Federally-funded grant project reaches out to a variety of audiences in hopes of encouraging students with disabilities to explore -- and succeed -- in higher education. The targeted audiences for the Summer Institute include students with disabilities (who have recently finished 11th or 12th grade), parents, high school teachers and counselors, psychologists and diagnosticians who provide documentation of disability for students, college faculty, college administrators, and disability service providers working with students with disabilities in higher education. For more information, check teams.cincinnatistate.edu/SWDSummerInstitute.
The 2003 KY - AHEAD Conference is scheduled for Thursday, June 5 - Friday, June 6. The conference will be held in Western Kentucky at Kentucky Dam Village in Gilbertsville. This year's conference theme will be: Accessible Learning for the 21st Century. For additional information or conference registration materials, please contact Cindy Clemson, Chair, Conference Planning Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Canadian University and Student Services conference (CACUSS) - Imagine the Learning, June 15-18, in Vancouver, British Columbia. For more information on this event go to the website of www.cacuss.ca
RESNA 26th International Conference on Technology & Disability: Research, Design, Practice, & Policy, June 19-23, 2003, in Atlanta, GA. Check www.resna.org/conferences/ for details.
Don't forget, the AHEAD 2003 Conference, July 8-12, 2003, in Dallas, Texas. For more information, see www.ahead.org/conference/2003/.
2nd Annual SALT Conference entitled Beyond Accommodations: Promoting Success for Postsecondary Students with LD/ADHD, October 17 and 18, 2003. Sponsored by The University of Arizona SALT Center (www.salt.arizona.edu) at The University of Arizona, Student Union Memorial Center, Tucson, Arizona.
Second Northern Brain Injury Conference, Rehabilitation: Body, Mind and Spirit, October 17th & 18th, 2003, Ramada Inn - Prince George, British Columbia, Canada.
"Accessing Higher Ground": Assistive Technology & Accessible Media In Higher Education", November 12-14, 2003, University of Colorado, Boulder. Keynote Speaker: Beth Finke, NPR Commentator & Author. Contact Information: Disability Services: 303-492-8671 (v/tty), e-mail: email@example.com, or see www.colorado.edu/sacs/Atconference for more information.
The 2003 National Higher Education Law and Policy Institute: Trends and Strategies for Universities and Community Colleges, November 16-18 in San Diego, California at Loews Coronado Bay Resort. Co-sponsored by: The American Council on Education, San Diego State University, The San Diego Community College District, and The League for Innovation in the Community College. To receive registration materials, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
DisAbility in Education Conference 2003 - The Way Ahead, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, Sunday 7 December - Wednesday 10 December 2003. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.
Jean Ashmore calls on AHEAD members to help make the Annual Conference a success.
Calling all AHEAD members from far and wide. By now, you have received your information/registration brochure for the July AHEAD Conference in Dallas. There is a superb slate of speakers and events, and a great turnout is anticipated!
When completing your registration form, you will note there is a place to check if you wish to volunteer. PLEASE, please consider giving a bit of your time to our wonderful organization. We are asking for volunteers to give two, two-hour shifts during the conference to help greet, give directions, etc. Being a volunteer can be a perfect time to see old friends and make new ones, and give back to our professional organization some of what it gives us - belonging, identity, and most of all collegial friendship.
I am coordinating the volunteer corps for the conference. Just put a check on the blank asking for volunteers when you send in your registration form or contact me directly at ADARICE@RICE.EDU. There is not a discount on registration given to any of us that are providing direct conference support. Just think of it (being a conference volunteer) as "the right thing to do." Hope to see you in July and have your name on my volunteer list!
Jean Ashmore, M.S.
Director, Disability Support Services
Rice University MS-529, Box 1892, Houston, TX 77251-1892
Phone: 713/348-5841 Fax: 713/348-5199
Universal Design, Continued
Sue Kroeger, University of Arizona, updates us on AHEAD's activities on the universal design initiative, including upcoming conference sessions.
A professional association, such as AHEAD, exists to advance the profession as well as the professional development of its members. The Dallas Conference theme "Advancing Our Profession: Refining Our Vision" is perfect for further exploration and discussion of universal design and the sociopolitical model of disability as philosophical constructs to guide our profession and our work. We live in a very litigious society that pushes us to look to attorneys to define our work. While good public policy is critical to advancing our disability access agenda, allowing case law to dictate our visions and missions is limiting.
One method AHEAD has utilized to push the boundaries of our professional thinking is through specific initiatives. As many of you may already know, AHEAD is sponsoring a "Universal Design" initiative that is being facilitated by Gladys Loewen and myself. This initiative started last summer at the conference in Washington, DC, with a think tank. Think Tank participants, guided by principles of universal design and the socio-political model of disability, grappled with the application of universal design to higher education environments.
Since last summer, Gladys and I have continued this initiative by coordinating the development of: universal design concurrent sessions, pre-conference session, and plenary session for the Dallas conference; a publication for the next JPED; mini-meetings in Boston and Tucson; and a series of brochures on universal design and higher education (to be published this year). Hopefully, many of you will take advantage of the following sessions offered at the AHEAD 2003 Conference in Dallas and begin to explore the potential of this exciting paradigm shift.
Pre-Conference Institute - Tuesday, July 8th, 9
AM - 5 PM
Teaching Every Student - Universal Design for Learning in the Postsecondary Classroom - Skip Stahl and Grace Meo
Access to Design Professions: The Harvard Experience - Flectcher
Learning From The Experts: Service Providers Views - Embry, Parker, Scott, McGuire
Promoting UD in College Instruction - Scott and McGuire
Universal Instructional Design in the Real World Classroom - Palmer
Re-arranging the Pieces: A UDL Approach - Brady and Corbett
Plenary Session - Saturday, July 12th, 10:30 AM
Universally Speaking - Valerie Flectcher, David Clarke, Sally Scott, Grady Landrum
Interview with Stephan Smith
Stephan shares his thoughts about AHEAD conferences in general and the Texas Conference in July.
Conferences are nothing new for you Steve,
how many years have you been doing them?
I have worked with event planning and conference management since 1989, however my experience with AHEAD Conferences began in with the 1994 Conference in Columbus, Ohio. Since that time, I've had the pleasure of working with so many talented and dedicated conference chairs, program chairs and other committee volunteers putting together AHEAD Conferences. It's always a fun and challenging experience!
What's the most exciting thing about doing
Between Conference planning committees, program committees, volunteers, staff, and contracted service providers; it takes well over 100 people to pull an AHEAD Conference together. Without a doubt, the most exciting thing about doing AHEAD Conferences is the opportunity to be a part of a large team of folks all focused on one goal… putting together the best conference possible for the members of AHEAD.
How much planning and prep work goes into
conferences, site selection, programs, accommodations?
The quick answer is… far more than most people will (or should) ever realize. A big part of a successful conference is making sure that the attendees don't see all the hard work and planning; but rather they simply get to enjoy the results!
My work on a conference begins about five years in advance of the event with inspecting, shopping for, and ultimately selecting the most appropriate site for the event in the geographic area that the Board decides is most suitable for that year. After the site is selected, contracts negotiated, and signed - then there is about a two-year lull until the next phase kicks in.
About two years out, the President appoints a Conference Chair(s) and Program Chair(s). In conjunction with them, we begin putting together the "framework" for the conference: the theme, targeted areas of programming, logo, ideas for special events, committee members and subcommittee chairs, etc.
Just over a year out, the Conference planning kicks into high gear with the solicitation of proposals for program content, recruitment of speakers, arrangements for special events, contracting for outside service companies who provide everything from captioning and catering to sign language interpreters and decorations for the exhibit hall.
Once the ball starts rolling in earnest about a year in advance, the pace of conference related activity and planning just gets faster and faster - culminating in a full-week event that is a joy for attendees and planners alike!
Basically, while the activities are varied depending on the timeframe; I am actively working on the planning and implementation for at least five conferences at any one time.
I recall the dates and hotel were changed
for this year's conference. Why was that?
In a nutshell, I was notified in late December of 2002 that the contracted hotel for the AHEAD 2003 Conference was going to be in the midst of major renovation and reconstruction during the time slated for the AHEAD Conference. In consultation with the hotel, we mutually decided that the scope of the work was going to be great enough that it would not only pose safety concerns for attendees, but also severely disrupt AHEAD's ability to hold the conference effectively.
Once this was realized, we worked quickly to identify an alternative location that would be at least as good, if not better, than the original hotel. We were more than successful in achieving this, and were able to contract with the Hyatt Regency Dallas at Reunion; keeping the Conference in Texas, negotiating INCREDIBLE room rates for our attendees, and securing facilities that are more than adequate to accommodate AHEAD's Conference needs. The only catch was that due to other national conferences and a "city-wide" commitment, we had to alter the dates by one week.
The result of this "study in making lemonade out of lemons" was securing an absolutely wonderful conference facility with improved access, meeting facilities, transportation, and location; reducing attendee room rates to only US$95.00 per night (a lower rate than AHEAD attendees have paid in 10 years saving the average attendee over $300.00); and keeping the Conference in Texas where an amazing group of volunteers were already hard at work ensuring a terrific time for everyone who attends.
What's different about this year's conference?
Wow, that's a tough question… every conference is different. If I had to pick out a few differences between this conference and others I would say: the program that has been masterfully developed by Tom Thompson, his co-chairs and the program committee has an even broader, more macroscopic approach to content; the location is wonderful, within easy pedestrian distance to lots of options for evening meals and entertainment and the train from the airport stops literally across from the hotel's front door; and it's in Dallas. I believe this is the first time AHEAD has had its international conference in Texas - a state and city with SO much to offer visitors and the Conference committee has made sure that the "Big D" flair will be prevalent throughout.
Why should I go to the 2003 Conference in
Great question! You know… I'm a big believer in the concept and power of "associations." I truly believe that professionals gain immense amounts of information, knowledge, comfort, friendship, and energy from associating with our peers. Particularly in an arena such as AHEAD where so many members work in relative isolation from others. Aside from the obvious reasons to attend; the terrific program, a great hotel, a wonderful city, fun special events, and the like… I think you should attend for the benefit of gaining renewed energy and enthusiasm from the dynamic interactions you will undoubtedly experience while at AHEAD 2003.
As the Conference theme indicates, it's all about "Advancing Our Profession: Refining Our Vision" and I would add: "revitalizing ourselves!"
I look forward to meeting you in Dallas!
RFB&D International Scholarships
I am pleased that Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic has again generously agreed to sponsor Canadian and international presenters at the AHEAD conference. If you are presenting at the conference please find the details below and forward your application to my attention by May 31st, 2003.
Director Constitutent Relations - International
Here's how to apply:
In the spirit of increasing participation in the International AHEAD Conference by Canadian and international post-secondary disability service professionals, Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D) will provide a scholarship to underwrite the participation of Canadian and international members of AHEAD who are presenting at the conference and who would not otherwise be able to attend the conference. The scholarship for is applicable to the 2003 AHEAD conference in Dallas, Texas.
International Presenters Scholarship Application (Word doc, 24KB)
Other AHEAD News
AHEAD Affiliate News
The ranks of AHEAD's local affiliates are growing.
Five state and regional groups have affiliated with AHEAD over the past year, and another group will likely join the ranks before conference time.
Arkansas AHEAD, Nation's Capital Area Disability Support Services Coalition, Kansas AHEAD, Western Iowa-Nebraska AHEAD, and Utah AHEAD. You may recognize some long-standing groups, as well as ones newer to the scene. They join the nine other groups that have affiliated in the first five years that AHEAD's program has been in existence. While the Affiliate program has been evolving since its inception, recently more substantive changes were approved by the Board of Directors that will impact the rebate system and type of support to affiliates. If you are interested to know more about the program, plan to come to the Affiliate Meeting at Conference, or contact Margaret Ottinger, Director of Constituent Relations, U.S., at (802)656-7853 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
AHEAD in Texas
Margaret Ottinger, Director of Constituent Relations, U.S., updates us on the AHEAD affiliate in Texas.
It's been said that everything is bigger in Texas - and the AHEAD affiliate in Texas is no exception. Celebrating their tenth anniversary last year, AHEAD in Texas has grown to become an organization of dedicated members providing support and professional development opportunities to fellow members and others serving students with disabilities.
The origins of AHEAD in Texas can be traced back to 1992 with the first annual conference at St. Philip's College in San Antonio. Rhonda Rapp, charter member and first president of the organization, was integral in establishing the organization. According to Rhonda, she came back from the International AHEAD Conference with the idea of starting a state affiliate as a service for those who could not afford to attend the International Conference. With the help of Patricia Candia of St. Phillips College in San Antonio, the first conference took place in 1992 with Jane Jarrow as the keynote speaker. With this success, AHEAD in Texas was established.
What factors contribute to the success of AHEAD in Texas? The strength of the organization can be explained by the strength of the individuals. Members, committee members, and officers are willing to do whatever needs to be done. There is a willingness to share information and a sense of support for fellow members. With the technical expertise and dedication of David Sweeny (Texas A&M University), the website was established in 1997 and serves members and others interested in disability services. The electronic discussion group was created in 1998 and an electronic newsletter, AHEADLines, is sent out to members four times each year with Maggie Seymore as the current editor.
Today, AHEAD in Texas has nearly 200 active members. With an equal split of community college and university personnel, over 90 percent of members are disability service providers. The organization sponsors a conference in November and a regional one-day workshop in the spring. According to Sandi Patton, traveling to different colleges and universities for workshops affords collaboration that keeps the organization strong.
Last year's state conference set the standard. Hosted by Rhonda Rapp and Dianne Hengst, the conference came home to San Antonio and featured such nationally known speakers as Salome Hayward. 2003 conference chairs Maggie Seymore (South Plains College) and Frank Silvas (Texas Tech) are already busy planning next year's conference in Lubbock for November.
The Texas group is excited to be the part of the planning for the upcoming AHEAD International Conference. Conference co-chairs Kerry Tate (University of Texas at Dallas) and Anne Reber (Texas A&M) have many AHEAD in Texas members involved in planning the event. The goal for AHEAD in Texas is to get more people in Texas and surrounding states involved. You can learn more about the organization through its webpage at tahead.tamu.edu or by contacting Rosemary Coffman, the current president, at email@example.com.
New JPED Editors Selected
Joanie Friend, Communications Director, announces the successors for Sally Scott, JPED Editor.
Two members of the JPED editorial board have been selected to lead the Journal. Nicole Ofiesh Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Special Education, University of Arizona, and James McAfee, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Special Education, Pennsylvania State University, will serve as co-editors for a two-year term starting in October. Both editors bring many years of experience on the editorial/review board of the Journal, in addition to extensive scholarly backgrounds in research and publishing in disability services.
Dr. Ofiesh has been employed as a Learning Disabilities Specialist at Skyline College and the College of San Mateo in the San Mateo Community College District. She also worked as a multidisciplinary team member providing pychoeducational evaluations and educational therapy for children with learning disabilities for the California Pacific Medical Center, Thelander Child Development Center in San Francisco. As a Doctoral Student at Penn State, Dr. Ofiesh conducted research and teaching with a concentration in higher education and service delivery for persons with disabilities. She also served as an intern in the Office for Disability Services, developed campus education with the ADA Coordinator and conducted research on affirmative action and persons with disabilities for the vice-Provost for Educational Equity. Her dissertation focused on the use of processing speed as a predictor of the benefit of extended test time for university students with learning disabilities. Since 1997, Dr. Ofiesh has worked as a full time researcher and teacher educator for Penn State, Providence College and the University of Arizona. She has served as an editorial reviewer for the JPED since 1995.
Dr. McAfee has worked for 22 years at The Pennsylvania State University as a graduate faculty member and administrator for the Department of Educational and School Psychology and Special Education. Prior to receiving his Ph.D., in Special Education Administration/ Organizational Psychology at Georgia State University, he worked in special education administration for the South Carolina Department of Mental Retardation. His primary areas of interest include law and disabilities, transition and postsecondary education, and administration of programs for exceptional students. Since 1997, Dr. McAfee has served as an editorial reviewer for the JPED. Dr. McAfee has also served as an editor or reviewer for thirteen other journals and publications throughout his career.
The team of Ofiesh and McAfee will begin the transition with the current JPED editor, Dr. Sally Scott, this fall. Dr. Scott's leadership during her two terms as editor has resulted in improved visibility for the journal by posting back issues on the web, the development of an Associate Editor structure to increase member involvement in scholarly activities, and most importantly, the timely publication of two quality journal issues annually. The new editors will carry on the tradition of producing a quality publication with innovative research, theory and practical applications in postsecondary access and support for students with disabilities. Once again, AHEAD is fortunate to have such committed and qualified members volunteer for leadership positions.
Exciting New Publication from AHEAD
AHEAD is pleased to announce the release of "Preparing for College: Options for Students with Learning Disabilities." This 15-page booklet is chock-full of useful, practical information for students, families and others who have an interest in facilitating successful secondary to postsecondary transition for students with learning disabilities.
From the introduction . . .
"Choosing a college is an important decision. Variables such as degree programs, curriculum, financial aid, campus programs, clubs and organizations, athletics, social activities, and housing are a few of the factors that impact a student's decision to attend a particular college. This is no different for students with learning disabilities (LD). There are, however, some additional considerations that students with LD should investigate when selecting a college. This booklet will help you to understand what those considerations are, and how to determine what you need to know about a college before you make a final decision."
The booklet concisely addresses:
- Considering a Postsecondary Education Experience
- Preparing Yourself Academically for a College Education
- The Differences Between High School and College
- Support Services in College
- Understanding Your Disability and Advocacy
- Postsecondary Options
- Beginning the College Search, and
- Questions to Use When Researching Colleges
Written by highly respected transition experts and AHEAD members, Dr. Lydia Block and Wayne Cocchi, this handy publication is perfect to keep on hand for passing out to prospective students, families, faculty, staff, and secondary school colleagues.
AHEAD wants this booklet to be easily accessible for all who want to have a supply on hand, so it is value priced to encourage your order.
1 - 25 copies $1.25/each
26 - 50 copies $1.15/each
51+ copies $1.00/each
Place your order today using the Publications Order Form available at: www.ahead.org/publications.
Dr. Catherine Campisi Appointed to the Medical
Board of California
Ward Newmeyer reports on AHEAD Past President Catherine Campisi's appointment to the Board that recently played a prominent role in ADA law.
In February, Governor Gray Davis appointed longtime AHEAD member and Past President Catherine Campisi to the Medical Board of California. Dr. Campisi is also Director of the California Department of Rehabilitation. She has devoted her life and career to increasing opportunities for persons with disabilities to fully participate in society.
When announcing her appointment to the Medical Board, Governor Davis lauded: "Dr. Campisi has been a leader and a strong voice in the disabled community for the past 30 years. She has been instrumental in the movement that [advocated] the rights of the disabled community to live independently and participate fully in their communities."
Soon after Governor Gray Davis made the appointment, the Medical Board - prodded by the Governor, Dr. Campisi, and disability advocacy groups - decided to withdraw an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The appeal, Medical Board of California v. Hason, had already been accepted by the Court, and oral arguments were scheduled for this term. In its appeal, the Medical Board argued that the Americans with Disabilities Act provision abrogating Eleventh Amendment immunity was invalid. Disability advocates are thrilled that Dr. Campisi will add a strong disability perspective to the Board.
Most of Catherine Campisi's career has been in higher education. A DSS provider at first, she was quickly and often asked to take on new responsibilities with more and more impact for people with disabilities. As Director of the California State Department of Rehabilitation, she manages over $360 million per year and 2000 employees to actively serve more than 80,000 Californians with disabilities.
Catherine was the 1984-85 President of AHSSPPE (the acronym of AHEAD's former name). She also served on the Board as Chair of the Legislative Committee from 1982-83 and again from 1985-87. She has served AHEAD in many other ways. She received the AHSSPPE President's Award in 1985, the Ronald E. Blosser Dedicated Service Award in 1986, and the AHEAD Honor for Meritorious Contribution on behalf of People with Disabilities in 1990.
Catherine has a Ph.D. in psychology, specializing in social psychology of disability from the University of Missouri, Columbus. Before her current appointment, she was Dean of Student Affairs for the 106-campus California Community College system. She remains on the Rehabilitation Counseling/Special Education Department faculty at California State University, Sacramento.
AHEAD proudly and fondly wishes Catherine the best of success with her new endeavor!
Curriculum Transformation and Disability:
A New Publication for Disability Service Providers
Jeanne L. Higbee announces the publication of a new book on universal design.
The University of Minnesota General College's Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy (CRDEUL) is pleased to announce the publication of a new book, Curriculum Transformation and Disability: Implementing Universal Design in Higher Education. The book is downloadable, free of charge, from the Center's web site, www.gen.umn.edu/research/crdeul. The faculty and staff development activities that created the impetus for this book were funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education.
The first section of the book serves as an introduction to the concepts of Universal Design and Universal Instructional Design. In the next section, faculty members from a broad range of disciplines, including anthropology, English composition, mathematics, psychology, history, and biology, provide concrete examples of how they have transformed their teaching in order to provide universal access for all students. The third section of the book focuses on student support services such as first-year experience programs, residence life, learning centers, counseling centers, and disability services. The book concludes with a section on resources, including chapters on technology and web design. The appendices provide a list of assistive technologies and an extensive bibliography.
Announcing an on-line resource offering resources and information for nursing students with disabilities.
If you are a student with a disability considering a nursing career, this is the place for you. If you are a nursing student with a disability, this is the place for you. If you are a nurse with a disability, this is the place for you. If you are a nursing educator, DSS staff member or guidance counselor, this is the place for you.
ExceptionalNurse.com is a nonprofit organization. It serves as a resource network for nurses and nursing students with disabilities by providing links to disability-related organizations, nursing organizations, discussion groups, equipment, technology, legal issues, mentors, related articles, message boards, employment opportunities and research. ExceptionalNurse.com also offers scholarships to nursing students with disabilities along with providing financial aid information.
ExceptionalNurse.com is committed to inclusion of more people with disabilities in the nursing profession. By sharing information and resources, ExceptionalNurse.com hopes to facilitate inclusion of students with disabilities in nursing education programs and foster resilience and continued practice for nurses who are, or become, disabled.
Visit the web site at www.ExceptionalNurse.com.
Accessible Media Guidelines
WGBH's National Center for Accessible Media recently published updated and expanded guidelines for making software and web sites accessible.
Boston, MA. (February 2003). Publishers, educational programmers and Web site developers are increasingly aware that they must include students with disabilities in their audience to comply with a range of accessibility regulations. However, few developers understand why access is a critical need or how to provide it in their products. A newly updated and expanded publication from the CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), "Making Educational Software and Web Sites Accessible: Design Guidelines Including Math and Science Solutions," addresses both these points in detail.
The original guidelines, published in 2000, represented an ambitious initiative to capture access challenges and solutions and present them in a format specifically designed to educate and assist software developers. The current set of guidelines builds on the original document, and offers further lessons learned from a four-year collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) called Access to PIVoT (Physics Interactive Video Tutor).
With funding from the National Science Foundation (www.nsf.gov/) and the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF, www.meaf.org/), NCAM and MIT's staff added accessibility enhancements to PIVoT, a sophisticated and comprehensive on-line physics resource. Along the way, tools and strategies for making less-daunting subject matter accessible emerged, and are now available in the new publication.
"NCAM has just released these long-awaited guidelines, and they are well worth the wait. Curriculum developers and designers of on-line educational materials will greatly benefit from the information contained in these guidelines. While accessible software and Web sites help meet the needs of deaf, hard-of-hearing, blind and visually impaired users, these guidelines effectively advance the theory that non-disabled users always gain from accessibility enhancements. While this information is crucial for students and faculty in higher education, they will benefit K-12 at one end and working professionals at the other end."
Norm Coombs, Ph.D.
Rochester Institute of Technology
In the guidelines, readers will find:
- a basic understanding of the needs of users with different disabilities.
- a summary of various approaches to serve users with different disabilities.
- specific solutions for designing more accessible software.
- guidelines with specific checkpoints and detailed techniques for implementation.
- extensive information on making multimedia presentations accessible to students who are deaf or blind
- examples of writing image descriptions for blind students
- solutions for making forms and databases accessible
- information on making electronic and on-line textbooks accessible.
"Making Educational Software and Web Sites Accessible: Design Guidelines Including Math and Science Solutions" is available free of charge in print and on the Web in a fully accessible version. Request print copies (bulk orders accepted) by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 617 300-3400 voice, 617 300-2489 TTY. Read the guidelines on line at: ncam.wgbh.org/cdrom/guideline/.
CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM)
NCAM and its fellow access departments at WGBH, The Caption Center and Descriptive Video Service®, make up the Media Access Group at WGBH. WGBH pioneered captioning and video description on television, the Web and in movie theaters. NCAM is a founding member of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). NCAM works with standards bodies, industry, consumer organizations and educators to develop and implement non-proprietary technical standards for multimedia, advanced television, and convergent media that ease implementation, foster growth and lay common groundwork for equal access to new technologies. For more information visit access.wgbh.org.
WGBH Boston is America's preeminent public broadcasting producer, the source of nearly one-third of PBS's prime-time lineup and companion online content as well as many public radio favorites. WGBH is a pioneer in educational multimedia (including the Web, broadband, and interactive television) and in technologies and services that make media accessible for people with disabilities. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards...even two Oscars. In 2002, WGBH was honored with a special institutional Peabody Award for 50 years of excellence. For more information visit www.wgbh.org.
Contact: Mary Watkins/Media Access Group at WGBH
617 300-3700 voice
617 300-2459 TTY
Disabilities Services from a Jesuit Perspective
Atlas Laster, Jr., Disabilities Coordinator at Saint Louis University, discusses his unique perspective on serving students with disabilities.
Editorial comment: The following article is by Atlas Laster, Jr. who is the Disabilities Coordinator at Saint Louis University. AHEAD recognizes that not everything in this article represents mainstream thinking but we feel an obligation to provide members with ideas in and out of the mainstream. It made us think. We hope it does the same for you.
In keeping with the Jesuit tradition of Saint Louis University, it is suggested that a philosophical, theological, and historical foundation for providing services to students with disabilities from a Jesuit, spiritual perspective may be found in the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles. Those writings show that a significant amount of ministry was directed specifically to individuals who, by contemporary definitions, would be classified as having disabilities. Although the various examples of ministry to people who had disabilities in biblical writings may not be used as a programmatic model for DSS programs, there are aspects that may be of value when considering the manner in which DSS providers approach direct service. It is beyond the scope of this writing to present an exhaustive review of ministry to the disabled from Jesuit, spiritual perspectives; thus, only a few salient observations will be made.
Based on the Greek words used to name the disabling conditions listed in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts, the "disabilities" included blindness, orthopedic impairments, deafness, speech impairments, leprosy (Hansen's Disease), paralysis, and psychosis. The accounts of ministry to individuals with disabling conditions always included compassion and apparently miraculous healing of the disabilities.
One Scriptural account of compassion for and healing of a disabled person is found in John 5:1-9. That account is of a man who having been disabled for thirty-eight years, and, along with others with various disabilities, often waited near a pool called Bethesda. The pool would provide healing for those immersed when an angel stirred its water. When approached by the Christ, the man said that no one would help him get into the pool to receive healing, and others with disabilities would simply rush into the water before he was able to enter. Christ showed compassion and healed the man on the spot. Apparently, no DSS providers in higher education settings have the power to impart literal healing, but we all may show compassion and engender motivation as we strive to provide equal access and equal opportunity to students with disabilities.
The Jesuit perspective on disabilities services also expresses aspects of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Within the Judaic setting of the events recorded in the Gospels and Acts arose Ignatius of Antioch. Antioch was the site of a church founded by Paul, and after his death, Ignatius became the church's bishop. It was Ignatius of Antioch who helped transliterate the Jewish cultural milieu of the Christ and his apostles into what is commonly known as the Judeo-Christian tradition. Moreover, Ignatius of Antioch has been credited with defining the Catholic Church.
More than fourteen hundred years later, when the integrity of the Catholic Church was threatened by the Reformation, Ignatius of Loyola and his early followers, who came to be known as Jesuits, helped to redefine the Catholic Church-although his original plan was to minister to Muslims in the Land of Israel. As it turned out, the Jesuits became ministers to the sick, prison inmates, the homeless, female prostitutes, and focused also on education for the masses. Over the centuries, Jesuits have been identified with "social justice" and education in their perpetuation of the Judeo-Christian tradition.
It has been stated that the Judeo-Christian tradition provided the veritable framework of the legislative processes of the United States, beginning with the statement about the equality of humanity in the Declaration of Independence, and continuing with the Constitution. Equality of humanity and social justice were legislated with the passage of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution, which outlawed slavery, provided ex-slaves equal protection under the law, and outlawed discrimination against ex-slaves in the voting process. Thus began civil rights legislation and laws protecting African Americans, which would eventually extend to people with disabilities.
Legislation such as the 1866 Civil Rights Act, the 1896 court case of Plessy v Ferguson-reversed by Brown v Board of Education in 1954, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act were important predecessors to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Legislation and court cases aimed at legalizing the equality of humanity resulted in the federal government taking the lead in ensuring that "affirmative action"-a term first stated in President Lyndon Johnson's 1965 Executive Order 11246-would be taken to protect civil rights of African Americans. Therefore, it may be seen that ministry to the disabled in the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles preceded formation of the Judeo-Christian tradition, which, in turn, led to civil rights legislation in the United States designed to outlaw discrimination against African Americans, and later, individuals with disabilities.
One final point to consider, when providing disabilities services from a Jesuit perspective, is whether or not to disclose the actual nature of students' disabilities when requesting academic accommodations from faculty. There is thought among some disabilities services professionals that certain "hidden" disabilities--learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, psychiatric disorders--should not be disclosed to faculty in order to protect students from faculty members' possible discriminatory attitudes. In other words, implicit in that position is the feeling that colleges and universities continue to hire and tenure faculty who may harbor discriminatory attitudes, and one way to protect faculty from the need to address their discriminatory attitudes is to not disclose the nature of students' hidden disabilities.
Overt or covert discrimination may sit at one end of the continuum that represents attitudes toward students with disabilities, and it is suggested that maudlin expressions of sympathy may sit at the opposite end. In order to find balance, one may consider that at any given nanosecond in time, external circumstances could lead to any person becoming disabled. In like manner, at any given time, internal physiological, biochemical, or neurochemical changes could also render one disabled. Notwithstanding whatever determines a faculty member's or DSS provider's worldview, a good rule of thumb, so to speak, is to treat others in the manner that anyone of us would want to be treated.
The Jesuit, spiritual perspectives of DSS work, from a Judeo-Christian worldview, is one approach. In fact, recent clinical studies have shown some validity to taking into account matters of spirituality in aspects of direct service in healthcare settings. At Saint Louis University, a Jesuit, spiritual perspective in DSS is a viable, but not mandated, direct service approach.
It is this writer's view that possible discriminatory attitudes of faculty may be addressed by engagement in disability awareness training workshops and ongoing dissemination of disabilities-related information. Furthermore, it may not be reasonable to expect faculty and others to be open to providing equal access to all people, as in the ideal Judeo-Christian and Jesuit spiritual traditions--without hidden agendas; however, it is reasonable to expect people to at least respect the laws governing equal access for students with disabilities. At all times, it is necessary to be responsive and vigilant--but not hypervigilant--in providing equal access to students with disabilities.
"Make Them Go Away": Book Review
What can AHEAD Members Learn from new restrictions on the ADA? By Randy Borst, president of AHEAD.
Make Them Go Away: Clint Eastwood, Christopher Reeve
and The Case Against Disability Rights
By Mary Johnson.
296 pages, $16.95-softbound, print book, and electronic text formats available.
Publisher, and disability-rights journalist extraordinaire, Mary Johnson, has yet again brought her hard-hitting style and bold realism to bear in her latest book, Make Them Go Away: Clint Eastwood, Christopher Reeve and The Case Against Disability Rights. We learn from Johnson that when the "Man of Steel" and known advocate for numerous humanitarian causes fell to injury, making him a low-functioning quadriplegic, America took pity and made Christopher Reeve the most popular man in a wheelchair since FDR. Rather than adjust to life as an independent person with a disability, in response to his new form of popularity Mr. Reeve advanced the medical model of disability: disability is purely a temporary medical problem in need of "the cure." Mr. Reeve informed people with disabilities that he would not join with them, in effect saying he was not interested in the rights of people with disabilities to an accessible physical infrastructure. He placed, instead, all his hope in "the cure" that would surely come his way eventually.
We learn that when Clint Eastwood was unsuccessful in defending a lawsuit for failure to make his place of public accommodation fully accessible, he went to the Congress to promote the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Notification Act. If passed, the act would mean in effect that owners of public accommodations would not need to take deliberate steps to make their properties accessible to the American public with disabilities until they were informed in writing that someone with a disability needs to access the facility in question. Then, the owner would have 90 days to make the correction or could be sued in federal court, making the civil right of access to public accommodations uniquely burdensome on people with disabilities, when compared with the rights held by other so-called minorities.
Elsewhere on the American political front, powerful interests who had made the ADA necessary were certain to oppose it, and so they did, with help from the mainstream and business presses, where they faced relatively little opposition from disability-rights leaders and advocates, who had decided not to engage the press in a public debate they believed they could not win. The press, went the argument, has an unmovable propensity to exploit disability to elicit pity and to celebrate the hope of eventual triumph over the imagined debilitating effects of disability through medical breakthroughs and charitable work. From that kind of viewpoint, it would appear ludicrous that people with disabilities would challenge society in the form of passing a law that ensures themselves various rights to participate in society, equal in citizenship and social worth to those without disabilities. Reactionary interests that despised government regulations in all forms were able to capitalize on the press's medical/charity rhetorical stance, publishing exaggerated claims and grandiose misrepresentations of what people with disabilities were asking for in terms of civil rights and reasonable accommodations, turning the tide of public opinion against the ADA, Johnson informs.
The results of all this, as Johnson put it in Make Them Go Away, were that people with disabilities became a "political punching bag," with nowhere in the political arena to run. With conservatives accusing the civil rights of Americans with Disabilities of being an unfair imposition on business interests, with conservatives and liberals agreeing that disability is a personal/medical problem rendering people with disabilities incapable of a normal life, how could people with disabilities expect to find refuge in the courts as had other minorities? The courts, accustomed to adjudicating disability-benefit regulations, have in no small way considered the ADA to be a benefits program, limited to the most severely disabled Americans only. Johnson quotes Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as snapping from the bench that the ADA is for the blind, the deaf, and the wheelchair bound, not people with carpel tunnel syndrome and bad backs.
Never mind that the Congress and framers of the ADA had made it clear that discrimination against anyone who had a disability, had a history of a disability, or was regarded by the covered entity as having a disability would be free from discrimination on that basis to the extent that nondiscrimination could be accomplished without undue burdens. Never mind that ADA proponents had hoped to stem the $0.5 trillion per year in government handouts to people with disabilities while letting them enjoy the blessings of the American Heritage and share the hope of the American dream. Just as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects all Americans from discrimination based on race, sex, religion, etc., the ADA was meant to protect all Americans, not a mere 54 million Americans, per Justice O'Connor's misrepresentation of that figure's intended meaning in the ADA preamble.
The courts were not alone in their misconceptions, Johnson clearly points out. Most members of Congress thought they were passing a law to benefit the unfortunate handicapped of America, not an act to protect Americans from unnecessary discrimination on the basis of disability while securing their civil right to participate in the major sanctioned workings of American society. Consequently Congress put virtually no funds into programs for ADA training so that corporations, and state and local governments, could learn objectively about the ADA and its compliance provisions, leaving Americans with disabilities to do the training themselves through largely informal networks and small federal grants to independent living centers. And the executive branch? In 1990, president George H. Bush, signing the law, promised that the shameful walls of exclusion would come tumbling down. Did he mean what he said, Johnson wants to know, or was he uttering the pretty words of a political handler? Two years later on the campaign trail, the same President Bush promised, according to Johnson, that if he were reelected, all able-bodied Americans would work - completing forgetting Americans with disabilities.
Though the ADA is not gone, by a long shot, it should have become clear that American AHEAD members can rely less today on the mandate of ADA compliance as an institutional motivator for the improvement of opportunities in higher education for people with disabilities. However, many avenues remain open to our message of better opportunities for people with disabilities in higher education. We need to stress more in our message to our campuses that inclusion and reasonable accommodation are significantly less expensive to society than are the trillions of dollars now wasted on outmoded deficit/dependency models of disability. As the workforce ages, society needs to find ways to allow people to work longer into their elder years than people used to do, and this requires a more flexible, open-minded, accommodated approach to education, training, and employment relationships. We should stress that disability culture, including new forms of high as well as low technology, makes disability inclusion and accommodation much more practical than in previous years. We should support the research and professional know-how that has been progressing in universal design as it portends to make the world a more fit and friendly place for all to live.
We can work together to find new opportunities to call upon the great educators of our time to help society change its views of disability away from deficit models, and toward recognition of the stark reality of an aging population society cannot successfully support as dependent. Is replacing myth and misconception with reality and enlightenment through research, discovery, and high-level teaching not at the heart of the mission of higher education? How can this be done in a milieu where students and others with disabilities have anything less than an equal opportunity to learn and demonstrate what they know and can do than those without disabilities? The faculty can only teach what it knows, and it can only practice what it believes, which in the end supports the model under which its graduates will labor.
Regardless of civil rights, universal design, or any other paradigm under which we choose to operate, AHEAD members need to place at the top of their priorities, Americans and other nationals alike, to let no stone of disability exclusion go on turned to inclusion and advancement. And we have to do it ourselves, we and our students. We should be able to count both on conservative and liberal agendas. Conservatives want to put resources into helping people help themselves for the betterment of all. Liberals want society (including government) to put significant resources into services to support the progress of the so-called less privileged, weaker members of society. However, if neither of these two extremes believe that people with disabilities should share in their outcomes, what hope have we in either camp? Do not be dismayed by political swings to the left and right. In truth, they are not all that important to the progress of our work. They are just matters that need to be taken into account.
To help us better understand the political and social climate under which we operate, I encourage everyone to read and take seriously Mary Johnson's book. No matter what nation we live in, we cannot place all our hope in civil rights regulations and enforcement, though this does not mean we have no hope. We still have plenty of cause for Hope and opportunity to celebrate and build on the progress of our work. And celebrate and build on it we shall.
NCD Youth Advisory Committee Outreach
The National Council on Disability is looking for input from youth on their financial aid experiences.
The National Council on Disability's Youth Advisory Committee needs your help to reach college and graduate students with disabilities who can share feedback about their financial aid experiences. We are working on related policy recommendations and will write a report based on youth's concerns, stories, and suggestions. Stories about youth's experiences are valuable because so little has been reported directly from youth about their perspectives on disability and financial aid.
Please help us by sharing the College Student Inquiry with as many young adults with disabilities as possible, and let us know if you have stories to share, as well. If you have an e-mail list, support group, newsletter, office bulletin board, or other connections with youth and disability organizations, please use those connections to help spread the word about our need for college students' feedback. We are counting on you to let youth with disabilities know how much we value hearing from them. Please ask them to send their feedback to us as soon as possible (by October 30 at the latest) at email@example.com. Write to us at that address if you need large print or Braille versions of the file.
In addition, please subscribe to our Youth Advisory Committee News List, which will occasionally notify you of NCD Youth Advisory Committee efforts such as this inquiry, reports on youth issues, and public meetings. Be a part of our network. You can subscribe by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We need your participation to strengthen this network of youth disability leaders. By joining our e-mail news list and sharing our inquiry with college students and related professionals, you will help us build a great, grassroots mechanism for teens and young adults with disabilities to improve their lives. Please let me know if you have questions about the inquiry and if you'd like to stay in touch.
Rebecca C. Moore
Co-Vice Chair, Youth Advisory Committee, National Council on Disability
National Council on Disability Youth Advisory Committee Website: www.ncd.gov/newsroom/advisory/youth/youth.html.
The National Council on Disability Youth Advisory Committee Designated Federal Liaison is Gerrie Hawkins, PhD: email@example.com.
Caroline Forsberg, Director of Disability Services and Information for the State University of New York, writes about her personal experiences with retiring a service dog.
Over the past few months, I have undergone several changes that relate to my disability and I thought that, in sharing the changes and my reactions to them, it might give you another way in which to guide your students, no matter what disability, through the vagaries of college and out the other side to success.
In late January, on a Sunday morning, my dog guide, Anise was unable to get up the stairs of our apartment. We took her to the local emergency clinic and, after tearfully discussing all kinds of options for her including euthanasia, we decided to give her massive steroids and see how she was in the morning.
The next day, Monday before work, we came back to the clinic to find that she was walking much better. However, the vet in charge recommended that I take her to my vet and leave her there while he tried different doses of steroids to see if her walking improved even more.
That next Saturday, I came to take her home. My vet, after a week's observation, felt that Anise wouldn't be able to work any more. So I went from using a very good dependable dog guide to using a long cane--what a shock and change in mobility!
Imagine my fear of the unknown. I hadn't used a cane in over nine years and now I had to cross main streets, go to work either by bus or cab, get around my workplace, go grocery shopping and do all the things I had done with Anise only now I have to do them on my own depending on my wits and my hopefully remembered skills with the cane.
I am sure that you have had students who have undergone such life-changing events. Either they were partially sighted and lost their remaining vision, they could walk with crutches and then had to use a wheelchair; they could hear reasonably well and then, nothing. Or you have had students come to you saying something like: "I thought I could do college. Now I find I am learning disabled or visually impaired and now need help with things I could do by myself before."
After this experience, I wanted to write this letter so that, when students that we serve are having difficulties and it's not clear why, maybe there is a change relating to their disability that should be addressed. At the conference this summer, talk to those of us who you have seen over the years undergo disability-related changes. Perhaps we could have a "chat" around this subject so that we could share strategies, experiences, and resources on this subject.
Although my experience has been very very painful, I have found that co-workers and friends have been willing to help nudge me on the road to independence, to making a decision whether to get another dog, and they have helped me gain my cane travel confidence. There's nothing like a support system when one is in trouble.
Why Do you Have Pretend to be Me in order
to Understand Me?
Deb McCarthy, Academic Services Coordinator at Southwestern University, discusses her experience with a controversial "simulation" exercise on her campus.
Simulation programs and the effects of these programs are a hot topic of conversation among disability service providers. I didn't realize just how "hot" this topic was until it appeared on my office doorstep - or more accurately, my office email.
As the Academic Services Coordinator of a small liberal arts college with 1,200 students, I am responsible for a majority of the outreach activities concerning disability awareness. Thus, I was a bit taken aback when, in late March, I received and email from a student asking for volunteers to "have a disability for day." As part of a class project for a class about students with exceptionalities, students, staff and faculty were being asked to don blind-folds, ear plugs, mouth guards or wheelchairs for approximately 8 hours and pretend to be disabled. While I applauded the desire to raise awareness about disability issues, I was (and remain) concerned about the message public simulation programs send about disability issues.
I called the student and asked to meet with her. What began as an interesting conversation "ended" in a conflict of academic freedom. To be more specific, I attempted to guide the student through the conflict associated with simulation programs. I offered to send a letter to her participants indicating the accommodations that would be available to a student with a "real" disability. The student chose to exercise her project in the manner she had originally planned, and my attempt to engage the class instructor in a discussion of how the program might hurt members of our campus community was met with the statement, "It's the student's academic right to do the program any way she chooses."
I fully support academic freedom. But, I don't believe that academic freedom should be used as an excuse for inconsideration or lack of knowledge. The student who planned the project and those who participated may have gained some positive awareness. I will never know for sure. What I do know is that several members of the campus community who have disabilities called or came by my office expressing anger and sadness because they felt the program invalidated their experience. From their (and my) perspective, a program designed to raise awareness created more isolation for a minority that already feels isolated on our campus.
As I look to the future, I challenge both myself and other service providers to continue examining the ramifications of simulation programs. Let me begin my discussion with a question: Do you have to be (or simulate) another race to comprehend racism, gay to recognize homophobia or abused to empathize with a victim of assault? If you answered "yes" to this question, I challenge you to explore your assumptions about what it takes to be aware of another individual's experience. If you answered "no" to the above question, I simply ask, "Why are disability issues different?"
To many individuals with disabilities, myself included, simulation programs are offensive. Persons with real disabilities cannot put on and take off a disabling condition at will. We live with our conditions - be they physical, learning, or psychological - every minute of every day. That is a reality that cannot be simulated. By focusing on the disabling condition, rather than the individual, simulation programs perpetuate feelings of pity, isolation and heroism that many with disabilities attempt to avoid.
Some individuals will say that disability simulations are valuable because as Joseph Shapiro quotes in his book, No Pity, "You can become disabled from your mother's poor nutrition or from falling off your polo pony. And since disability catches up with most of us in old age, it is a minority that we all, if we live long enough join" (Shapiro, p. 7-8). The argument is that we should prepare ourselves for a possible disability in our own future. My response to this argument is that true preparation requires an awareness of the tools and resources available to persons with disabilities. The "Have a Disability for a Day" program on did not address these accommodations. Thus, the program did not accurately reflect the positive experience of many in our community who negotiate accommodations successfully.
Even more, the majority of students who report disabilities to my office have disabilities that cannot be seen. These students struggle with learning disabilities, serious side-effects of medications and psychological issues. The "Have a Disability for a Day" program may have raised awareness for a select group about some of the physical barriers on campus, but the program was not a true representation of the experience of students with disabilities on our campus. Invisible disabilities are much less accepted or understood than the more visible physical disabilities. As a result, students with invisible disabilities often face serious resistance. To leave them out of a program about disability awareness is to reinforce this resistance.
Finally, I am concerned that the simulation program set up a comparison between an individual with a disability and "the norm." In my mind, this comparison perpetuates the unspoken assumption that persons with disabilities are not the norm. I think it is time for us to take steps to reframe our notions of "the norm" as our own individual experiences rather than the majority experience. My hope is that, as professionals in the field, we can encourage each other and our respective campus communities to raise awareness about disability issues in ways that will both benefit and include all members of a campus community.
Strengthening Ties on Campus and Abroad
Initiative: Mini-Grant Winners Announced
Mary Ann Higgins, National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange Consultant, announces the recipients of grants to support education abroad programs.
The National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (NCDE) announces five winners of Strengthening Ties on Campus and Abroad, an initiative that offered mini-grants to support cooperative ventures between campus-based disability service providers and education abroad staff in the United States and overseas.
The winning proposals that will result in the increased participation of students with disabilities in international exchange programs are:
Skidmore College will gather information
to assist in the inclusion of students with learning disabilities
in study abroad programs with London, England area universities;
Northcentral Technical College will have a student with a disability join a NTC planning trip to Germany and the Ukraine to develop an international exchange program for community college students with and without disabilities;
Michigan State University will conduct a reciprocal site-visit exchange with homestays, between a MSU Disabled Student Services (DSS) Office staff member and a DSS staff member from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom. The information gathered will inform students with disabilities about both campuses;
The University of Arizona, working with CONAHEC (The Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration) and International Institute on Disability Advocacy will implement a new exchange program that will bring several Mexican students with disabilities from the University of Senora to attend the University of Arizona and its disability advocacy program every year; and
St. Andrews Presbyterian College will train staff and develop guidelines for faculty in establishing accessible overseas programs, and test the guidelines at Universidad de Cuenca in Cuenca, Ecuador.
These proposals were also selected based on their plans for dissemination beyond their individual institutions - working to broaden and internationalize the perspectives of disability service providers and heighten the knowledge of international exchange and overseas staff about disability access issues.
The winners each will receive $2000 to use towards their proposed projects to be implemented over the next six months. Recipients will share their projects and observations in online discussions during the course of the collaborative activity, complete a written evaluation and compile a list of project resources for inclusion in NCDE's A World Awaits You journal and the NCDE booklet, Opening Doors Overseas to Students with Disabilities. NCDE will provide recipients an additional $1000 award each to offset costs of attending selected national conferences to present lessons learned and recommendations from the projects to colleagues in disability services and education abroad.
NCDE and these awards are sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State and managed by Mobility International USA. For more information contact Mary Ann Higgins, (firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 330-854-9048), or Travis Bruner at NCDE (email@example.com, Tel/TTY: 541-343-1284).
Creating an Online Database of 18-21 Programs
The Transition Coalition at University of Kansas is putting together a national database of transition programs for young adults with disabilities.
The Transition Coalition is part of the Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas and is funded by grants from the Department of Education, Office of Special Education programs. The Transition Coalition supports effective practices in transition planning and services for youth with disabilities and promotes national linkages among transition professionals through a variety of forums including face-to-face and online training and networking. We provide professional development, training and resources related to secondary school reform and transition.
What is an 18-21 Program? It is a special education opportunity, developed by the public school system in an age-appropriate setting, such as a house, apartment, college, or business office. These programs generally serve students ages 18-21, but could also serve a wider range of ages. 18-21 programs focus on the areas of transition planning.
Request for Assistance. To promote national linkages, we are creating a database of 18-21 programs, including brief descriptions and contact information. This will then be posted on the Transition Coalition website at www.transitioncoalition.org and used to increase communication between programs and to help other school districts start programs.
The Transition Coalition is asking for assistance in locating 18-21 programs throughout the United States. Please e-mail the Transition Coalition at firstname.lastname@example.org if you know of a program that should be included in the database, or call 785-8647098 and ask for Amy Gaumer.