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Student Success
6/17/2015 12:00 AM

Studies have shown that having a sense of connection to people in school and participating in academic or social activities can increase the chances that college students with disabilities will persist in pursuing their degrees. Study groups and informal meetings with faculty outside of class can help students build connections. Research has also found the reverse of this to be true — that those who did not do such things tended to drop out. Given this, it is important to both inform students about how connections can benefit them and help them find ways to make connections.

Studies have shown that having a sense of connection to people in school and participating in academic or social activities can increase the chances that college students with disabilities will persist in pursuing their degrees. Study groups and informal meetings with faculty outside of class can help students build connections. Research has also found the reverse of this to be true — that those who did not do such things tended to drop out. Given this, it is important to both inform students about how connections can benefit them and help them find ways to make connections.

Your staff can help to share information with new students, talking to them at their initial intake appointment about how participating in activities like study groups and clubs and talking with professors outside of class can help them to be successful. If you don’t have time to have such conversations, consider putting together a handout or mass email to share this information with all incoming students. Of course, the information will carry more weight if it is endorsed by other students, so consider asking some of your successful students to share their experiences and comments in a brief write-up that you can hand or send to new students.

Consider how your office itself can be a place of connection for your students. Seton Hill University’s disability services office, for example, takes a very active role in forging relationships with students by keeping in touch in various ways throughout the semester. Staff members meet with all students when classes start to review their schedule and discuss any strategies that might be useful for the classes they are taking. The office offers students (especially freshmen) coaching appointments at varying rates of frequency according to students’ needs.

Kimberley Bassi-Cook, associate director of disability services, says that the coaching helps students make a smooth transition to college and keeps them on track academically. The office also sends out messages throughout the semester when it receives helpful information about other on-campus supports. Students’ grades are reviewed by staff at the midterm point. Those who are doing well get a congratulatory message, but those who are not are invited into the office for help in figuring out what is not working and to discuss what available supports might be helpful. All students are also invited in to discuss classes for next semester, learn what they can expect during advising, and get tips for self-advocacy. At the end of the semester, the office invites students who feel they need any changes in their accommodations for the next semester to come in and discuss these changes. Bassi-Cook says that many students take advantage of the supports the office offers, and it’s no wonder. Such outreach surely creates a sense of connection for registered students.

Don’t forget to recruit faculty in your efforts, too. Researchers Ketevan Mamiseishvili and Lynn Koch suggest that professors can assist these efforts by incorporating cooperative learning activities into their classes to help students develop relationships with their peers. They can also encourage all students to come to office hours for an informal chat.

Administration can help, too. The office handling student activities can ask clubs to make sure that announcements and meetings are accessible to all types of students and remind them of the importance of inclusiveness.

Students may not engage in social activities for a variety of reasons, including shyness, a feeling of being overwhelmed by schoolwork, or the need to work in order to pay expenses. Some may have language-based or social disorders that make verbal interaction a challenge. Think about resources on your campus that might be used in unexpected ways to help students connect with their peers.

St. Petersburg College’s Tarpon Springs campus has created a unique opportunity for connection in cooperation with the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art on campus. Barbara Thompson, disability resources manager, selects a group of 10 students with Asperger’s and other disabilities that can make it hard to connect with peers to participate in a weekly Art Encounter. Students work on various projects with an art therapist. Thompson says that when the students create work or discuss art, they often bring things happening in their own life into the discussion. She says that the interactions improve students’ self-esteem, strengthen critical thinking and social skills, and make it easier for them to communicate with others.

As these examples show, there are many ways to marshal the resources on your campus to help students feel connected. Since retaining students is a shared goal, make sure to recruit others to help you in your endeavors, and think creatively.

To learn more about factors researchers have found to contribute to the persistence of students with disabilities in college, please see my last article, “Understand the myriad factors affecting student retention.”

Universal Design
5/18/2015 12:00 AM

The goal of universal design when applied to education is to make learning inclusive for all students, not just those with disabilities. It is an approach to designing all products and services to be usable by students with the widest possible range of both functional (physical) capabilities and different learning styles.

Ronald Mace earned a degree in architecture from North Carolina State University in 1966, where, as a wheelchair user, he encountered many barriers. He believed that instead of modifying specific facilities to meet the needs of certain users, all facilities should be designed to accommodate as broad a population as possible, according to the Center for Universal Design. The goal of universal design when applied to education is to make learning inclusive for all students, not just those with disabilities. It is an approach to designing all products and services to be usable by students with the widest possible range of both functional (physical) capabilities and different learning styles.

Seven principles of universal design

The following general principles were developed by the Center for Universal Design and have become widely recognized as a summary of the vision of the universal design movement. The list below is based on version 1.0 of the principles, dated April 1997. The Center’s website has a wealth of universal design resources and can be found at www.ncsu.edu/ncsu/design/cud/.

  1. Equitable use. The design should be appealing, useful, and marketable to people with diverse abilities rather than being targeted at a specific segment of the population.
  2. Flexibility in use. The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities. It should accommodate right- and left-handed people and let the user work at his or her own pace.
  3. Simple and intuitive. Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills or current concentration level. It should also provide effective prompting and feedback during and after task completion.
  4. Perceptible information. The design should communicate necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities. One way to do this is to use different modes (pictorial, verbal, tactile) for redundant presentation of essential information and provide adequate contrast between essential information and its surroundings.
  5. Tolerance for error. The design should minimize the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions. The design should provide warnings of possible errors and provide fail-safe features.
  6. Low physical effort. The design should allow the user to use the item efficiently and comfortably with a minimum of fatigue.
  7. Size and space for approach and use. The design should allow everyone access and use of all components regardless of body size, posture, or degree of mobility. It should also accommodate assistive devices or personal assistance.

Universal Design for Learning

The seven principles of universal design are generic and were originally conceived in the context of physical architecture. The question of how to apply them to education is outlined by the movement known as Universal Design for Learning. The movement was developed at the Center for Applied Special Technology, a nonprofit research and development organization founded in 1984. This initiative deals with general education issues and, as a result, its principles can be more readily applied to the classroom than to online learning. However, its experience in working toward universal design in classroom education is a good foundation on which to develop concepts relevant for online learning.

CAST describes UDL as a flexible approach to curriculum design that offers all learners full and equal opportunities to learn. Based on research into the diverse ways people learn, UDL offers practical steps for giving everyone the chance to succeed. CAST believes that some people are visual learners, some learn by doing, and some learn by hearing, and has developed a set of guidelines that can include all of these learners.

Apply universal design to online learning

On October 28, 2009, the U.S. Government Accountability Office submitted a report to the Committee on Education and Labor of the House of Representatives entitled “Higher Education and Disability: Education Needs a Coordinated Approach to Improve Its Assistance to Schools in Supporting Students” (U.S. GAO Report GAO-10-33, 2009). The report noted that schools are increasingly using the universal design model in curriculum development and delivery. In this context, online learning is one of the many delivery platforms benefiting from the inclusion of universal design.

Online learning, by its basic nature, limits the availability of some of the learning modalities discussed by CAST. For example, a math problem can only be solved online by manipulating numbers on the computer, not by manipulating physical objects, as can be done in a live classroom. As a result, some of the CAST universal design for learning principles may have limited applicability for online learning. Nevertheless, the concept of looking for ways to accommodate the unique skills of online learners is worth considering.

Creating accessible online course content

The accessibility of the course content itself is the second requirement for the creation of accessible online learning. The American Foundation for the Blind noted that some courses actually posed very few of the problems mentioned by students taking the survey. These courses had a number of similarities:

  • Consistent designs
  • Proper headings
  • Fewer frames
  • Contrasting colors
  • Accessible graphics

As you will see shortly, all of these features align with the principles of universal design. They make the content clearer for people with vision, visual processing and cognitive disabilities — as well as for those with no obvious impairment. That is, the short list of features that the foundation’s survey found that helped students with disabilities are things that are important in creating content that will benefit anyone.

In the sections that follow I provide an overview to designing optimally accessible content. The key word here is overview.

Be learner-centered

Thomas Friedman, in his 2005 book The World Is Flat, contends that information technology is leveling power relationships. Many online teachers have observed this phenomenon in action and remark how online classroom behavior mirrors the shift of power from teacher to students. This doesn’t mean that the students have all the power and the teacher none, but rather that in the online arena the two are now more equal participants — partners even.

Modularize and organize your course content

Dividing lessons into small, “bite-size” pieces — often called “chunking” — has long been advocated as an important learning tool for students with disabilities, especially those with learning cognitive disabilities. Students with hearing impairments whose first language is American Sign Language also benefit from this, as do nonnative speakers without disabilities. Ruth Clark also recommends segmenting online lessons for all learners so that they can be completed in short chunks. Limit asynchronous e-learning lessons to two to five minutes and synchronous e-learning lessons to an hour.

Chunking implies not only that the document is modularized but also that it is well-organized. Good structure — or rather, the headings that provide the visible framework — is an aid to content navigation for all users. Using well-thought-out, descriptive headings will enable users with disabilities to navigate quickly through the document, just as do users with normal vision. Skimming a page looking for the next section is a common practice. But for users of some assistive technologies such as screen readers, this is only possible when the document uses properly constructed headers, which enable these users to jump from one header to the next. Otherwise, the user has to read a line at a time to find the next section.

Provide a text equivalent for every nontext element

A screen reader cannot describe an image, but the author can attach a short, hidden text description to the image that the screen reader will vocalize for its user. We are not advocating text-only course content. Using graphics cannot only make the content more visually appealing and interesting, but also for topics in art or science, for example, they may be essential. A chart or diagram may convey information better than can be done verbally. Some learners, including those with learning disabilities and cognitive disabilities, often learn better from visual representations. That said, it is important not to clutter documents with graphics for the sake of decorations. Ruth Clark recommends the careful use of relevant visuals to promote learning, but strongly advises against adding graphics that do not clearly support the text.

Include captions for multimedia presentations

Here presentations refers to multimedia such as video or a narrated PowerPoint slide show that includes a sequence of pictures accompanied by a soundtrack. These provide hearing-impaired people with the ability to understand the audio-only content as well as to make sense out of a video.

Captions have other uses. A video can be searched via the text in the captions, allowing the ability to quickly locate an item without having to sit through the presentation. It also can make a captioned Internet video searchable using an Internet search engine.

This article was excerpted and adapted from Making Online Teaching Accessible: Inclusive Course Design for Students with Disabilities. For information about this and other Wiley products, go to www.wiley.com.

Programs
3/24/2015 12:00 AM

In addition to living away from their parents or guardians for the first time, having to make new friends, and navigating an unfamiliar institution and processes, new college students with disabilities also must seek out the support services they need to succeed, even if they’ve never before had to advocate for themselves. It can be a frustrating and isolating experience that sets students up for failure.

At McDaniel College in Maryland, students with disabilities who register with the Student Academic Support Services Office can access fee-based support beyond just reasonable accommodations. There are three enhanced support programs, offering everything from interactive workshops on disability-related topics to weekly meetings with academic advisors, who help students with whatever difficulties they may be experiencing.

In addition to living away from their parents or guardians for the first time, having to make new friends, and navigating an unfamiliar institution and processes, new college students with disabilities also must seek out the support services they need to succeed, even if they’ve never before had to advocate for themselves. It can be a frustrating and isolating experience that sets students up for failure.

At McDaniel College in Maryland, students with disabilities who register with the Student Academic Support Services Office can access fee-based support beyond just reasonable accommodations. There are three enhanced support programs, offering everything from interactive workshops on disability-related topics to weekly meetings with academic advisors, who help students with whatever difficulties they may be experiencing.

“We noticed that there was still something missing,” said Melanie Conley, the SASS associate director. “Despite all the support we offered, some students were really struggling during that first year, and the missing link was the transition to college.”

Speaking with students with disabilities about their past experiences and hearing from parents confirmed that. So SASS administrators decided to create a short bridge program, called McDaniel Step Ahead, which offers incoming freshmen and transfer students with disabilities a chance to acclimate to the college environment before other students move in for the fall semester.

The five-day, early-move-in program is available to students registered with SASS. It ends as first-year orientation begins, and focuses on equipping students with the academic, independent living and social skills required to live in college, said Dana Lawson, the assistant director of McDaniel Step Ahead and an academic counselor at the institution.

After securing support from the college leadership, Lawson and Conley worked with the institution’s advancement office to secure funding. The parents of an upper-class student who wished their child had been offered access to such a program as a freshman provided a contribution to fund the program for three years.

The Step Ahead program, which is staffed by SASS staff and graduate assistants, was launched in 2012. That first year, students wishing to participate paid just $100 for the program. The second year, the cost was $250 per student. However, those who couldn’t afford it received scholarships.

Students who signed up for the pilot were invited to connect with each other and ask questions on Facebook during the summer. They also received a call a couple of days before the program started to make sure they were ready. When they arrived on campus, they got welcome bags that included a branded T-shirt, a refillable water bottle, snacks, and a binder with all the paperwork they needed, such as their fall-semester class schedules, important policies and procedures, SASS resources, and handouts to be used during the bridge program.

After students got settled in, a luncheon gave the parents a chance to spend some time with their children before saying “goodbye.”

Over the next few days, students took part in workshops on a variety of topics, including classroom etiquette, time management, study and test-taking skills, and organization. They also learned about the institution’s honor code, different learning styles, and assistive technology available to them through SASS. Students toured various campus facilities and heard from administrators of different service units. And they participated in “College 101” skits on topics such as managing stress.

Activities designed to promote bonding included a visit to a farmer’s market, an ice cream outing, and a movie night. Toward the end of the program, students took a trip to Target to purchase any class or dorm supplies they still needed.

As things wound down, students got the chance to do their laundry and clean before other students arrived on campus. The program ended with a scavenger hunt, a picnic, and an awards ceremony where students received awards such as “Best Thinker,” “Best Team Player” and “Happy Attitude.” They also got their accommodation letters.

Evaluations completed by 25 students at the start and end of the 2012 pilot helped staff gauge student learning. They showed that most students had significantly increased familiarity with the resources available to them at the institution. Students also felt they knew how to communicate with professors; understood what constitutes acceptable classroom behavior; realized the role their disabilities play in their learning; and had made friends on campus. Meanwhile, 90 percent of their parents reported their children’s transition to college was “good,” “very good” or “excellent,” and all parents said they would “definitely” recommend the program.

Despite that, program staff felt they could do better. At the end of the spring 2013 semester, 71 percent of pilot participants were still enrolled at the institution, but just 67 percent were on active status. Changes were made for the fall 2013 program.

For one, assistive technology training was made a much bigger part of the curriculum. That way, students feel more comfortable using the tools, which are available at the SASS office. And that, in turn, gets students to visit the office more frequently so that if they were experiencing problems, they were more likely to tell staffers.

Another significant change was the creation of a peer mentor program. The peer mentors were Step Ahead participants from the pilot year who were in good academic standing and in good standing with the honor and conduct board, or other students registered with SASS in good standing who program staff felt had the qualities needed to be good mentors.

The role of the mentors was to help connect incoming students to the campus, teach students about ethics and boundaries, create understanding of students’ roles and responsibilities, and prepare them for both Step Ahead and the academic year. In exchange for serving in that role, mentors received a $100 stipend and two internship credits. An intensive weeklong training prepared mentors for the job.

The mentors connected with Step Ahead students before they arrived on campus. They participated in the five-day program with students as a way to bond with them and address any issues immediately as they came up. They also helped with activity planning. In addition, mentors attended short debrief meetings at the end of each Step Ahead day, sharing insights and concerns with program staff. And after Step Ahead was over, mentors stayed involved in students’ lives, first offering to eat lunch with them in the cafeteria so they didn’t feel self-conscious or isolated, and then checking in with them periodically throughout the semester.

“We thought that was important because we found that the first time around, after we gave students their accommodation letters, we sometimes didn’t hear from them again until being notified of their withdrawal,” Lawson said.

Those strategies paid off. The 35 students who participated in the 2013 program were still enrolled a year later, 90 percent were still in active status, and, of those in active status, 96.3 percent were in good academic standing.

Program staff is now working on how to keep the program going without that initial contribution, and how to keep the program small as more people hear about it and demand grows.

Use these tips to create bridge program

Want to create a program like McDaniel College’s Step Ahead to help incoming students with disabilities get better acclimated with your institution and campus living? Conley and Lawson offer the following suggestions:

  • Create a detailed program proposal. Include a proposed budget. Outline the proposed curriculum, plus explain how the curriculum addresses students’ needs and common skill deficiencies. Talking to upper-class students could help you determine what areas your curriculum should focus on. Address what role assistive technology will play in your curriculum and why.
  • Gain institutional buy-in. Find administrators from other units that you think would support the idea, since you will need their help to incorporate resources and information from their office into the program. And help your top campus leaders understand what the program could do for student retention to get them on board.
  • Find start-up funding. Work with your advancement office, since staffers from that unit may have good ideas as to what donors or potential donors may be interested in funding such a program.
  • Determine your staffing needs. Some of your existing staff may be able to help with parts of the program, but more likely than not, you’ll also need additional help. Find out where that help may come from.
  • Identify relevant institutional policies. Consider any policies and/or procedures that may apply to any aspect of your program, such as those from your residence life department and those dealing with transporting students off campus.
  • Make fun a key component. Don’t make your program all about learning. Find ways to get students to have fun so they can bond, which will help in their retention later on. Find out where current students like to hang out in your community. Consider activity costs and transportation issues when planning outings.
  • Engage students before, after program. Social media and brief phone calls before the program starts can ensure participant readiness and nip any potential problems in the bud. Plus, engagement with students after the program ends creates a bridge between your program and the rest of the semester.
  • Consider whether to use peer mentors. While you may not be able to employ peer mentors for purely financial reasons, a built-in mentoring program can make a big difference in immediate student engagement and long-term retention. If you decide to use mentors, determine up front how many you will employ, how they will be selected, how you will compensate them, what their responsibilities will be, and what training they will need.

For more information, you may contact Melanie Conley at mconley@mcdaniel.edu or Dana Lawson at dlawson@mcdaniel.edu.

Conversation With: Emily Shryock
4/7/2015 12:00 AM

Emily Shryock, the assistant director of services for students with disabilities at the University of Texas at Austin, has used social media extensively to conduct outreach for her office and create greater awareness on campus about how it helps students with disabilities.

Emily Shryock, the assistant director of services for students with disabilities at the University of Texas at Austin, has used social media extensively to conduct outreach for her office and create greater awareness on campus about how it helps students with disabilities.

Q: How and why did you get interested in the use of social media as an outreach tool for your unit?

A: I began exploring social media about two years ago. We had a blog on our website, but I was already using Facebook personally, so I wanted to experiment with using it professionally to maintain timely communication with our students and create awareness of what was going on in an informal, engaging way.

I also wanted to engage others on campus, such as students who don’t have disabilities but who, for whatever reason, had an interest in disability. With Facebook, they could take what we post and share those items with their own networks. We now have also started using Twitter as well.

Q: What has been the outcome of your social-media efforts?

A: One unexpected but positive outcome was that we’ve really been able to extend our reach and create partnerships with other campus groups and community organizations that we otherwise would not have had an audience with. Connecting with those groups has allowed us to broaden the reach of our postings, because when they share our posts they reach all of their followers. And internally, it has contributed to creating a more connected campus and generating awareness of what my office does.

Having those connections has also meant that getting content to post regularly is never a problem. Particularly when it comes to community organizations that serve individuals with disabilities, what they post are often things that we know would be of interest to our students, so we can just share.

Q: What advice would you give someone at another institution looking to do the same thing?

A: Start small and start with what you’re comfortable with. Just because you say you’re going to do social-media outreach doesn’t mean that you have to do all kinds of social media at once to start.

For a while, I was just posting to Facebook and learning, and not necessarily advertising that we had a Facebook page. It was a couple of months before we actively began advertising our page. I wanted time to get familiar with how everything worked. With Twitter, I did the same thing — quietly posting content while figuring out how to use the platform effectively.

When we were ready to go public, we included information about our social-media efforts in our newsletter and added links to our website and email signature lines. Liking other groups’ pages and inviting students and others to “like” us also helped.

Prioritize what will go on your Facebook page and Twitter feed, because there’s a lot of content out there. For us, anything from our office gets priority, followed by university and community events, and then national and international items related to disability. And post often, so things stay fresh and you keep people engaged. We post three to five times a week, and it takes no more than five to 10 minutes to post.

Also, maintain consistency. I do all the social-media posting for our unit for that reason. At the same time, we’re very intentional about representing different kinds of disabilities equally in our postings.

For more information, you may contact Emily Shryock at emily.s@austin.utexas.edu.

Conversation With: Melanie V. Tucker
3/10/2015 12:00 AM

Melanie V. Tucker, the assistant vice president for student affairs at Northern Illinois University, spearheaded efforts to implement the principles of universal design across her unit and campus.

Melanie V. Tucker, the assistant vice president for student affairs at Northern Illinois University, spearheaded efforts to implement the principles of universal design across her unit and campus. Below, she explains her motivations for doing so, and the outcomes.

Q: What got you interested in universal design applications for student affairs departments?

A: Prior to my current role, I served as the director of two disability resource centers, so I was very familiar with universal design to begin with. When I stepped into my current role, I realized that implementing some universal design strategies across my department was a way to not only contribute to retention initiatives, but also to increase partnerships across campus. I was particularly moved to do this by research about student persistence when students feel valued and included in their campus communities, and I wanted to move us away from the compliance and medical model toward a social justice model.

Q: How have you specifically promoted the principles of universal design within student affairs?

A: My division puts on professional development conferences each year for us and our partners across campus. I use that opportunity to conduct training for staff from offices within my department, as well as other areas of the institution, on how to infuse universal design into what they do.

Part of what I love about universal design is that it just makes sense. Once people get that universal design doesn’t have to be real complicated, there’s this sort of lightbulb moment, and suddenly they start looking at all of the things they do, down to the very basics, like how they market programs and events. For instance, do they place fliers on bulletin boards across campus? Well, that doesn’t work for everyone. So they then start considering how they might do such things differently to create inclusion.

Sometimes, people also find that what they’re already doing is in line with the principles of universal design, and so they see off the bat that being inclusive can be easy, and it doesn’t necessarily mean any added work.

Q: What advice would you have for someone at another institution looking to emulate your efforts?

A: Find allies across campus. Those folks could be faculty members or colleagues from other departments. Knowing who has people’s ears can make a big difference, because as a UD advocate, I can’t be in every meeting or at every table.

Invite people to come and have a conversation about universal design. Once you create some excitement around the topic, it will spread. Other departments have started inviting me to their departmental meetings to talk about what universal design would look like within their divisions.

And approach the conversation from a perspective that offers broad appeal. For instance, explain how inclusion creates a welcoming environment that promotes retention, not just for students with disabilities, but for all students. Don’t frame universal design as being a cure-all, but rather one more tool we can use to positively impact retention.

Counter resistance before it comes up. For example, talk about how, sure, some things can cost a lot of money, but there are many others that would cost little or nothing at all and can make a huge positive impact.

For more information, you may contact Melanie V. Tucker at mthompson3@niu.edu.

Conversation With: Elizabeth G. Harrison
1/19/2015 12:00 AM

Elizabeth G. Harrison is the director of the University of Dayton’s Office of Learning Resources and associate director of the Ryan C. Harris Learning Teaching Center. She has presented extensively on the topics of working with faculty to promote universal design and expanding accessibility for students with disabilities.

Elizabeth G. Harrison is the director of the University of Dayton’s Office of Learning Resources and associate director of the Ryan C. Harris Learning Teaching Center. She has presented extensively on the topics of working with faculty to promote universal design and expanding accessibility for students with disabilities.

Q: How can disability services providers work with faculty members to increase accessibility?

A: It’s sometimes easier to say this than to do, but disability services providers should really get to know the faculty development and learning support people on their campuses. These people can become powerful allies in reaching out to the faculty and educating them about how to broaden accessibility.

Get to know those folks on campus who, from your point of view, have roles that seem in one way or another to be related to what you do. See exactly what it is they do and how it overlaps with your own role or what you think needs to be done to broaden accessibility. Find out what they think about disability and talk with them about the things you want to do. If they’re receptive, work together on those things. Don’t think that it has to be you alone doing this, because we all care about helping students succeed.

Q: Why aren’t such collaborations more commonplace?

A: Disability services providers may sometimes think of themselves as the only people on campus who serve students with disabilities, the only ones who care about serving students with disabilities, or the only ones who can serve those students. But that’s not the case. There are many others who, if you could just help them to understand the issues facing students with disabilities, would become committed to expanding accessibility.

For some DS providers, I think it may be the case that they got into disability services because they have a family member or someone they care about who has a disability and needed support in college. Or perhaps the DS providers themselves experienced college as students with disabilities, so now they feel a personal commitment to expanding access for others, and they feel that they can’t put that commitment on others. We all operate on certain assumptions that have been built over the years as a result of our own experiences, and that can get in our way.

I encourage people to explore their own assumptions about things such as faculty and their own roles at their institutions. Ask: Why do I think I’m the only one, or my office is the only one, who can do this work? Why am I convinced others will say “no, we can’t do this” or “this won’t work”? Why do I think others may not care? Try to get past that and work intentionally to expand your own mental model while at the same time educating others to help them do the same thing.

For more information, you may contact Elizabeth G. Harrison at eharrison1@udayton.edu.

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  • Meet the Editor

    Joan Hope
    Managing Editor

    Joan Hope became editor of Disability Compliance for Higher Education in 2014. She brings years of experience in higher education and journalism to her work.

    Joan taught writing and literature courses for eight years at colleges and universities including Indiana University at Bloomington, Clark University, and Houston Community College. As a freelance journalist, she published hundreds of articles in newspapers, magazines and reference books.

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