Demonstration Projects to Ensure Students With Disabilities Receive a Quality Higher Education

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FY 2005 Project Abstracts

Allan Hancock Joint Community College District
Learning Disabilities and Distance Learning: Preparing Faculty for Student Success

This project will develop innovative, effective, and efficient teaching methods and strategies in the area of distance learning course development in order to provide faculty and administrators with the skills and support necessary to teach students with learning disabilities. Allan Hancock College will develop approximately 10-hour long digital video modules designed to assist faculty in creating course materials that support successful distance learning course completion by learning disabled students. The modules, offered via Web streaming or DVD, will themselves model the good practices that are the critical building blocks of the methodologies. Ancillary products resulting from the project will be a self-test for students, a pre- and post-test survey to elicit faculty knowledge and learning, and a rating scale for faculty to use in evaluating learning styles used in courses. The college will ensure that members of traditionally underrepresented groups have equal access to the project, both as staff and as participants. Staff development will be a major aspect of the project. Participating faculty and project personnel will receive training from consultant experts. Further, this demonstration project will incorporate the "learning circle" approach to professional development in which faculty will learn by engaging in reflective practice and constructive inquiry and dialogue. Key project staff members are experts in their fields; collectively, faculty members in the Learning Assistance Program have 58 years of experience working with learning disabled students. Technical staff members have produced numerous digital videos and have ensured that they meet ADA compliance standards. The college will be able to provide facilities and resources necessary to complete the project successfully and will house all key personnel in close proximity and will provide workstations, scanners, and other necessary devices. Evaluation processes will be detailed and designed to assess progress throughout the grant, with key outcomes measures including comparisons of student course completions and faculty participation rates. Dissemination will be via a digital video marketing tool designed to explain the project activities, and report on outcomes, presentations at conferences and workshops, and an on-site conference tentatively titled "Distance Learning Accommodations for Students with Learning Disabilities."

Project Director: Mark Malangko
Telephone Number: 805-922-6922
E-mail: mmalangko@hancockcollege.edu

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Bank Street College of Education
Higher Education Disability Support - Universal Design Principals (HEDS-UP)

Project Higher Education Disability Support - Universal Design Principles (HEDS-UP), conducted by the Bank Street College of Education (BSC) in collaboration with San José State University, will design and implement a model program for enhancing the quality of undergraduate and graduate teacher preparation programs for students with a range of learning disabilities. Faculty from both institutions collaborated in the design of this project, including consultation with potential members of a Project Advisory Group to develop three multimedia professional development modules focusing on design of modifications and accommodations for students with learning disabilities. The project will address core coursework in general and special teacher education. Based on principles of Universal Design and grounded in a philosophy of self-determination for students with disabilities, project activities will include: (1) collaboration with the undergraduate Department of General and Special Education at San José State University (SJSU) in California; (2) professional development, including customized and general technical assistance workshops for faculty of both institutions; (3) training in the use of assistive and educational technology; and (4) dissemination of multimedia professional development modules through distance education. During year one, interdepartmental teams at BSC and SJSU, composed of faculty and student fellows, will analyze course requirements, instruction, and assessment procedures in three core teacher education courses. Working with faculty who teach these representative courses, and based on consultation, observation, and videotape analysis, rubrics for department-wide faculty self-assessment will be developed and pilot tested. Concurrently, student team members will design and pilot test questionnaires to assist students with disabilities in anticipating the need for accommodations in core coursework. Student data will be analyzed in concert with self-assessments of faculty to establish basic priorities for three multimedia professional development modules designed for faculty to improve the quality of education for students with disabilities in higher education institutions. During year two, model classroom demonstrations in each of three curricular areas will be developed in collaboration with teaching faculty, and teaching demonstrations of accommodations in all aspects of coursework will be documented with videotape, comparative student products, and student and faculty evaluation. During year three, data and demonstration strategies for course preparation and instructional and assessment strategies will be incorporated into three multimedia professional development modules. These modules will include an introduction to Universal Design principles and Universal Design for Instruction, self-assessment instruments, and demonstrations of accommodations and modifications, as well as generally available assistive technologies.

Project Director: Olga Romero
Telephone Number: 212-875-4468
E-mail: olgar@bankstreet.edu

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Baruch College Research Foundation
Promoting Educational Excellence for Students with Disabilities

The City University of New York (CUNY) Center for Assistive Technology Services at Queens College, the Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students at the College of Staten Island, and the Computer Center for Visually Impaired People at Baruch College will pilot, refine, and implement a CUNY-wide project called PeopleTech. Its overall goal is to create an effective working infrastructure that integrates faculty, students with disabilities, and the assistive technology and related teaching strategies that facilitate effective instruction, including student assessment and evaluation. Developed in conversations with faculty experts, students with disabilities, and assistive and instructional technology experts, as well as individuals providing services to students with disabilities, this project will provide services for core access. Individuals providing services to students with disabilities have agreed to play a significant role in providing services, training, and academic advisement to students. Project work will focus on the following areas of need: (1) online access to material (including science and math) and effective strategies to teach postsecondary students with disabilities online (including access to online multimedia); (2) conversion of standardized and non-standardized test instruments, including the CUNY CPE tests, to formats that are accessible to and useable by students with sensory and/or learning disabilities; and (3) classroom strategies, including media access, for teaching postsecondary students with sensory and/or learning disabilities. The project will utilize research and development of necessary tools, as well as assistance to and training of faculty, as the strategies to achieve the project's goal. One project component will look at the need for and then create "tool sets" that will allow for improved access to course materials within course management systems such as Blackboard. A second thread will choose selected introductory core courses and ensure that the materials used, including online multimedia materials, are accessible to and useable by students with sensory and/or learning disabilities. The project will utilize Technology Fellows, a group of graduate students within the university who will work with faculty teaching students with disabilities. The fellows will learn accessibility basics from project staff. They will then interface among the faculty member, the student, and the staff whose job it is to create accommodations. For example, they may provide tactile graphics of in-class handouts for a student who is blind, or a version of a handout that can be grasped and comprehended by a student with a reading disability. Concurrently, the fellows will communicate with the project researchers to alert them to the needs and the data evidenced by day-to-day classroom activity.

Project Director: Karen Gourgey
Telephone Number: 646-312-1426
E-mail: karen_luxton-gourgey@baruch.cuny.edu

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Claflin University
Enhancing Academic Support for Students with Disabilities

The goal of this project is to increase the capacity of faculty, staff and administrators at Claflin University in order to support the unique instructional and academic services needs of students with disabilities and help ensure their success in postsecondary education. The model demonstration project will be housed and directed by the Claflin University Counseling Center, whose director will serve as PI. It will develop and deliver training in innovative, effective and efficient teaching methods and strategies to faculty, staff, and administrators to provide them with the skills and support necessary to teach students with disabilities, thereby enhancing the quality of their postsecondary education experience. Such methods and strategies will include: (1) in-service training and professional development; (2) customized and general technical assistance workshops; (3) annual summer training institutes; and (4) training in the use of assistive and other educational technology. The project will also: (1) assess the institutional climate and current services available for students with disabilities; (2) review and develop comprehensive policies and procedures for serving students with disabilities; (3) select an institutional advisory council, including students with disabilities; (4) develop and train faculty and staff in effective teaching strategies for students with disabilities; (5) develop a resource room for faculty to assist in serving students with disabilities; and (6) evaluate project activities. The aim of the activities will be to increase the ability of faculty and administrators to meet the needs of students with disabilities, increase the resources available to serve students with disabilities, and disseminate replicable strategies for training faculty and administrators to more effectively serve students with disabilities.

Project Director: Deborah McCarty
Telephone Number: 803-535-5506
E-mail Address: dmccarty@claflin.edu

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Colorado State University
ACCESS to Postsecondary Education through Universal Design for Learning

The ACCESS project plans to improve the quality and outcomes of postsecondary education for students with disabilities and a diversity of learners by developing a state of the art, replicable training program to provide technical assistance and professional development for Colorado State University (CSU) faculty, staff, and administrators. This project will provide university educators with the skills and support they need to teach students with disabilities. In developing the ACCESS proposal, input and direction was provided by: the Colorado/Wyoming Disability Consortium on Higher Education; CSU students with disabilities; CSU faculty and instructors; professional staff from the Center for Community Participation; the Assistive Technology Resource Center; the Academic Advancement Center; the Learning Assistance Center; the Office on Resources for Disabled Students; and the Vice President for Student Affairs Office at CSU. Further needs assessment information will be gathered from these sources as the ACCESS project is implemented. This ACCESS project will make available information, training, and professional development opportunities for CSU faculty and staff, providing them with the strategies, tools, and resources they need to offer their course content in a universally accessible manner that is conducive to learning for all students, including students with disabilities. The strategies will provide information to faculty in the following areas: (1) application of assistive technologies; (2) adaptation of educational technologies, including accessible web content and digital format for texts; (3) legislative mandates in higher education; (4) manifestations of disability and impact on learning; (5) campus resources and support services; and (6) the provision of appropriate and reasonable accommodations. Individualized support, mentoring, and training for CSU faculty and staff will be provided as they deliver course content in a universally designed format, ensuring access to educational content for all students. Faculty and staff professional development content will be delivered using a variety of strategies including, but not limited to, small group in-services, self-paced Web-based instruction, and hands-on workshops. In addition, a comprehensive and extensive Web site will be linked to appropriate state and national information and professional organizations, allowing for dissemination of project strategies at CSU and its satellite campuses across Colorado and nationwide. Through this project, data will be examined in regard to an increased knowledge and comfort level on the part of faculty in teaching students with disabilities. Student enrollment, retention and graduation will also be measured.

Project Director: Catherine L. Schelly
Telephone Number: 970-491-0225
E-mail: schelly@cahs.colostate.edu

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DePaul University
Productive Learning Strategies (PLuS)

This project will establish a blended professional development and technical support model for faculty, administrators, and staff at a large, urban, Catholic university. The project will build upon an existing support program for students with learning disabilities, Productive Learning Strategies (PLuS), and represents a collaborative effort between the faculty and staff in the School of Education, Liberal Arts, and Sciences, and the PLuS Program, which is housed in the DePaul University Office of Student Affairs. The PLuS program was originally established through funding from the U.S. Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) and has provided comprehensive support services to students with disabilities at DePaul University for the past 21 years. The program was highlighted in a 1990 monograph published by the Department's Office of Postsecondary Education. Although PLuS has been a very successful support program for individual students with learning disabilities, it has not had a significant impact on the attitudes, beliefs, and practices of many faculty, staff, and administrators regarding the characteristics of students with disabilities, their needs and rights, and strategies for supporting students with disabilities at the university level. This is partly due to the fact that the number of faculty and staff working at DePaul University has increased substantially over the past 15 years, making DePaul University the largest Catholic university in the United States. This rapid expansion in the size of the university has made it more difficult to provide outreach, professional development, and support program information to the faculty, staff, and administrators within the university. However, the university believes that postsecondary institutional cultures and practices play a critical role in the recruitment, retention, and education of students with LD. Therefore, the project will seek to influence the attitudes, beliefs, and practices of faculty, staff, and administrators through: (1) the expansion of available technological and print resources focused on the characteristics of students with disabilities, the needs and rights of students with disabilities, and strategies for supporting students with disabilities at the university level; (2) the establishment of a train-the-trainer model for faculty, staff, and administrators from all departments and offices throughout the university; and (3) customized technical support for faculty who currently teach students with disabilities in their classrooms. By the end of the project period the university will produce a model professional development and technical support program that will be disseminated through professional literature and programmatic materials to other postsecondary institutions.

Project Director: Carol Wren
Telephone Number: 773-325-4340
E-mail: cwren@depaul.edu

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Eastern Washington University
Supporting Students with Disabilities through Professional Faculty Development and Student Curriculum

Students with documented disabilities continue to demonstrate significant difficulty at institutions for higher education. Eastern Washington University (EWU) is committed to integrating best practices in teaching, technology, accessibility, and student services to offer an excellent education to all students, regardless of disability, and to do more than provide "reasonable" accommodations. To that end, EWU has brought together faculty, staff, and community agencies to create a multi-disciplinary Disability Studies Certificate Program. This grant will expand the concept of the Disability Studies Certification Program to include educating faculty and staff at EWU in unique methods and strategies for accommodating students with disabilities in order to increase rates of course completion. The project will enhance education success for students with disabilities by addressing the three primary problem areas for these students, as identified in the literature: (1) transition to postsecondary education; (2) academic struggles in postsecondary education; and (3) interagency collaboration difficulties (for transitioning into the professional work world). The project intends to: (1) prepare students with disabilities to navigate the college environment; (2) expose EWU faculty and staff to disability-competent knowledge as well as strategies and skills for teaching students with disabilities; (3) develop a multidisciplinary Disability Studies Certification Program that approaches disability as diversity, rather than as pathology; (4) develop university-community partnerships and service-based community learning; and (5) promote a university-wide environment of universal access, including state of the art adaptive technology. The systematic evaluation of this project will contribute to the growing knowledge base of theory and educational strategies designed to improve the postsecondary outcomes for students with disabilities. The project will address the current needs of students with disabilities by providing multiple opportunities for peer support and by opportunities for faculty and staff education and advancement. The project features intensive workshops for faculty and staff across disciplines, providing information and assistance in course design, teaching methods, student services, and assistive technology. In addition, six EWU faculty members will revise courses or design new curricula with these goals in mind and also develop workshops and materials for fellow faculty members. Finally, this project will provide a unique collaboration with the office that provides services to students with disabilities, so that there is a parallel process of learning and advancement from administration to faculty and staff and to students.

Project Director: Sandra Altshuler
Telephone Number: 509-359-6385
E-mail: saltshuler@mail.ewu.edu

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Kent State University
The Access to a Quality Higher Education Project

The Access to a Quality Higher Education Project will address two priorities: (1) the development of innovative, effective, and efficient teaching methods and strategies to provide faculty and administrators with the skills and support necessary to teach students with disabilities; and (2) a synthesis of research and other information related to the provision of postsecondary education services to students with disabilities. The two main initiatives that comprise the project will address these two priorities and, in turn, improve the postsecondary educational experiences of students with disabilities at Kent State University (KSU) and throughout the nation. The first initiative undertaken in the project will be the continuation of the Professional Development Institute (PDI) attended in each summer of the project by 20 different administrators and faculty members from KSU (reaching a total of 60 faculty and administrators over the three-year project). The annual week-long PDI training will continue to focus on five related areas: (1) the nature and needs of the most common disabilities of students in higher education; (2) the transition and adjustment needs of college students with disabilities; (3) classroom accommodations and assistive technology; (4) effective teaching strategies and universal design for learning; and (5) the experiences and voices of college students with disabilities. Project staff will also provide direct support throughout the academic year to enhance participants' abilities to implement and sustain effective teaching and accommodations. The project will continue to make segments of the PDI available on the web for college faculty and administrators around the country and the world. The other main thrust of the project will be the continued operation and expansion of the Classroom Accommodation Network (CAN). The project will continue to respond to telephone and Web-based queries that higher education faculty and administrators have regarding accommodations for their students with disabilities. Project staff will also continue to update their Web site with links to state, regional, national, and international resources regarding services and supports for students with disabilities in higher education, as well as expand a comprehensive index of research and scholarly publications on the same subject. Furthermore, a listserv will be maintained so that individuals who contact the network will have the option of sharing resources, ideas, and experiences regarding accommodations for college students with disabilities.

Project Director: Phillip Rumrill
Telephone Number: 330-672-0600
E-mail Address: prumrill@kent.edu

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Landmark College
A Needs-Based Best Practices Professional Development Program for Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities in the Community College Setting

Landmark College's professional development project is A Needs-Based Best Practices Professional Development Program for Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities in the Community College Setting. Students with learning disabilities (LD) constitute the largest single group of all students with identified disabilities and range in various studies from 46 percent to 61 percent of all students with disabilities. The foundation of this project is Landmark College's best practices for educators teaching students with LD. The goal of the project is to improve the quality of postsecondary education delivered to community college students with LD. The objectives are: (1) to adapt for online delivery "Landmark College's Best Practices for Working with Community College Students with Learning Disabilities;" (2) to conduct a formal institutional needs assessment with each partner college to determine their capacity for serving students with LD; (3) to create a customized "best practices" professional development program for each partner college based on results of the needs assessment; (4) to train staff within each college's Office of Disability Services to use and implement the Internet-based professional development program and to become more knowledgeable about LD; (5) to evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of the professional development demonstration program on each partner college's delivery of educational services to students with LD; and 6) to develop and disseminate a model institutional needs assessment tool to enable community colleges to assess their capacity to provide high quality educational services to students with LD. The asynchronous nature of this online resource means that community college educators will have access to a free source of focused, practical strategies and techniques for enhancing their educational practices, which may be accessed based on their schedules and sequenced according to their needs. By creating a mechanism to assess organizational systems in light of best practices in the field, and by establishing a substantial new source of free professional development and training for community college educators, this demonstration project plans to have a significant impact on practices in the field, and on the capability and capacity of community colleges around the nation to more effectively serve students with LD.

Project Director: Steve Fadden
Telephone Number: 802-387-1642
E-mail Address: stevefadden@landmark.edu

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Renton Technical College
Disabilities Services Development Plan

Renton Technical College is developing and piloting an innovative new system for helping students with learning disabilities, called the Learning Assessment System (LAS). Traditionally, many students with learning disabilities don't seek help from the Disabled Student Support office until they begin having trouble in the classroom. It is even more complicated for students who are struggling with undiagnosed learning disabilities, because getting diagnosed can be extremely time-consuming and expensive. In either case, it can take weeks or even months to obtain accommodations, and it is often very difficult for the student to recover from the loss of learning that occurred during that time. The LAS offers solutions for addressing learning barriers quickly and effectively in the classroom, speeding up the process for accommodations when needed, and at the same time helping students understand their learning strengths and weaknesses and control their own individual learning process. The LAS provides: (1) the ability to know early in the quarter which students have learning barriers; (2) a menu of research-based learning strategies and training support for instructors to use in the classroom; (3) a faster referral and information sharing process with Student Services for students who need more intensive assistance; and (4) no-cost learning disability testing and diagnosis. The LAS has evolved over the past three years through the funding of the 2002 Demonstration Projects to Ensure Students with Disabilities Receive a Quality Higher Education Program, Title III, and a statewide project called the Learning Disabilities Quality Initiative. Staff from a variety of departments, including the Disabled Student Support Counselor and faculty from 10 professional and technical programs, worked together to develop the tools and service delivery components. This system puts an emphasis on self-assessment and student self-sufficiency, which has been shown to be essential to the success of students with learning disabilities. The main platforms of the LAS are Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Strategic Instruction. The LAS model consists of three tiers of services: (1) UDL classroom assessment and strategies provided to the entire class, as well as individually to those who need more intensive help; (2) more intensive assessment and strategies given by Student Services counselors; and (3) assessment and/or accommodation by the Disabled Student Support counselor. This model, along with a web-based tracking and communication tool, creates an environment where most learning barriers are resolved quickly and effectively in the classroom or through facilitated referrals to Student Services and electronic sharing of information between instructor, student, and counselor.

Project Director: Cathy A. Jenner
Telephone Number: 425-235-2352
E-mail: cjenner@rtc.ctc.edu

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San Diego State University
Disability and Diversity: A Universal Model for Success in Higher Education

The disabilities rights movement combined with disability legislation (i.e., the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990) have led to substantial progress for people with disabilities. The increasing number of students with disabilities on college campuses is a testimony to this progress. Students with disabilities are adding to the diversity on college campuses alongside students of color, English language learners, older students, and other "non-traditional" students (National Education Association, 2005). The composition of undergraduates is "increasingly female, older, and more diverse in terms of minority student representation" (Horn et al., 2002, p. 5). Overall, the college enrollment rate has increased for both students with disabilities and students of color, but both continue to lag behind white students in enrollment, retention, and completion. Disability is as much a part of diversity as race, sexuality, and gender. Yet, while most campuses have initiated efforts to address "diversity-related" issues, these efforts rarely included disability as an element of diversity. Instead, institutions have deferred to disability service offices to address issues considered disability-specific (Guillermo, 2003). San Diego State University's (SDSU) Department of Administration, Rehabilitation and Postsecondary Education - Interwork Institute's project is based on the premise that students with disabilities often present similar programmatic and instructional challenges and opportunities to postsecondary administrators, faculty, and staff as those of students of color. The purpose of the project is to positively impact the policies and practices that are implemented in institutions of higher education that affect students with disabilities. The overarching goal is to enhance the knowledge and skills of administrators, faculty, and staff through a universal model linking disability and diversity in postsecondary education. SDSU's approach to training incorporates universal teaching and learning strategies, assistive technology, online learning and technologies, and barrier-free access to learning. The project's training content will be based on the identified needs of faculty, administrators, and staff. The collaborative and interactive nature of the project facilitates the sustainability of the model. A highly qualified staff that includes representation from underrepresented groups, eight higher education institutions (both two-year and four-year), and a steering committee will implement the project.

Project Director: Bobbie Atkins
Telephone Number: 619-594-1569
E-mail: batkins@mail.sdsu.edu

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Sonoma State University
Ensuring Access through Collaboration and Technology (EnACT)

Ensuring Access through Collaboration and Technology (EnACT) will assist students with disabilities within the California State University (CSU) in attaining their postsecondary education goals. The purpose of EnACT is to provide faculty within the CSU system the skills, support, and training necessary to ensure that students with disabilities are provided a quality postsecondary education. Cross-disciplinary EnACT Task Groups will be established at each of eight California State Universities and will represent faculty, students with disabilities, student support services, assistive technology services, and faculty development programs. These EnACT Task Groups will: (1) conduct a needs assessments to establish a professional development agenda for faculty training and support related to providing high quality instruction for students with disabilities; (2) offer a Summer 2006 Teaching and Scholarship Summer Institute (train-the-trainer) to support EnACT Task Groups and new faculty in learning the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), ensuring a shared understanding and consistent implementation of these principles across the CSU system; and (3) establish an ongoing forum to collaboratively develop and implement faculty training in such key areas as effective and equitable accommodations in higher education and emerging technology-based teaching and assessment approaches to support all students including students with disabilities. Since 2000, over 3,700 new tenure-track faculty have been hired in the 23 campuses that comprise the CSU system. This constitutes more than one-third of all tenured and tenure-track faculty at CSU. Given this growth, EnACT will strengthen faculty development programs in support of CSU students with disabilities. To this end, EnACT will: (1) train recently hired tenure-track faculty across participating CSU campuses in the principles and applications of Universal Design for Learning; (2) enable recently hired tenure-track faculty to develop multi-media technology demonstration projects to address specific instructional issues through the use of current and emerging technologies; and (3) offer a Summer 2007 Teaching and Scholarship Summer Institute (train-the-trainer) for participating EnACT Task Groups and new faculty focused on best practices in integrating technology in teaching students with disabilities. EnACT will partner with the Center for Distributed Learning to disseminate online professional development resources across the CSU system. In addition, EnACT will disseminate resources to other IHEs nationally via existing academic databases such as MERLOT, an international online community of over 26,000 members.

Project Director: Emiliano C. Ayala
Telephone Number: 707-664-3490
E-mail: emiliano.ayala@sonoma.edu

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St. Petersburg College
Disabilities Awareness Project

The St. Petersburg College (SPC) project will offer extensive training for faculty and administrators to equip them with the skills needed to teach and support students with disabilities. With this project, SPC will borrow from the best practices of business and disabilities technology to create a comprehensive and diverse package of offerings for faculty and administrators. Because the need for faculty development will not end when this project's term is completed, the project has been designed to ensure sustainability and ongoing development. A team management approach will be developed using current SPC staff, which will ensure project sustainability when the funding period has ended. "Disability Champions" will be selected from faculty members in the disciplines in which the highest number of disabled students are studying. A Faculty Awareness and Training Web site will be developed with links to frequently asked questions, training workshops, "Simple Techniques" to adapt curriculum design, and outside resources on disability issues. Faculty workshops will be delivered in seminar settings and also placed online. A Prototype Online Course will be developed that faculty may use during this project prior to formatting their own courses using the model. A generic email address will be provided on a Web site that faculty may use to ask questions or make comments. Collaborative labs will bring together stakeholders to design SPC's vision and create "buy-in" for the project activities. The project will disseminate information throughout Florida, working closely with the State Department of Education and using the state's listservs and e-mailings to advertise the site and the workshops throughout the state. To provide national dissemination, the project will contact each state's Department of Education in the third year of the project to learn the most effective way to advertise the Web site in each state.

Project Director: Peg Connell
Telephone Number: 727-341-3398
E-mail Address: connell.peg@spcollege.edu

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Texas A&M University
The Disability Training Network for the TAMU System

Each year an increasing number of students with disabilities enter postsecondary education institutions across the country. The U. S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics reported an estimated 892,000 undergraduate students and 89,000 graduate students with disabilities enrolled in postsecondary institutions in 1995-96. These numbers increased to 1,508,000 undergraduate and 161,000 graduate students in 1999-2000. Similarly, the number of students with disabilities enrolled in the nine institutions in the Texas A&M University (TAMU) System has reached 1,586 in the current academic year, an increase of 74 percent since 1997. However, many students with disabilities fail to successfully compete academically or simply leave campus prior to completing their planned programs of study, despite the efforts made to help them make the transition from high school to postsecondary education (e.g., self-advocacy, systematic planning, and awareness of differences between colleges and high schools). An important area that has not been fully addressed is the faculty and administrators' lack of training in instructional strategies, particularly pertaining to students with disabilities. The purpose of this project is to develop and implement a network of disability training for the TAMU System that is designed to provide four levels of training and technical assistance (TA) through multiple means to the faculty and administrators in the system. Anticipated outcomes include: (1) four levels of training materials will be developed and disseminated; (2) four levels of training and TA will be provided to at least 2,000 faculty members and administrators in the TAMU System; (3) a minimum of 80 percent of those who receive training will improve competencies in understanding students with disabilities as measured by pre- and post-tests and by surveys of students with disabilities; (4) students with disabilities who take classes from trained faculty members will demonstrate better academic achievement as measured by grades; and (5) a minimum of 1,000 individuals outside the TAMU System will access the information and materials of the project by multiple means of media. Major project activities will include material development, network development, four-levels of training and TA, project information dissemination, research-based evaluations, and ongoing and summative evaluations. Sustainability and replicability are two long-term goals of the project. Sustainability will be built around existing resources and be supported by sales of certain published project materials.

Project Director: Dalun Zhang
Telephone: 979-845-1831
E-mail: dalun@tamu.edu

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Universidad Metropolitana
FADE: Faculty & Administrators Dignifying Education

Universidad Metropolitana is a Hispanic-serving postsecondary institution. Its Project FADE (Faculty & Administrators Dignifying Education) is a 36-month capacity-building program designed to provide a wide variety of opportunities and means of developing and/or enhancing skills and attitudes toward postsecondary students with disabilities. Targeting faculty and administrators, Project FADE is intended to encourage and facilitate innovative teaching methods, strategies, and redesign that will make dignity for students with disabilities emerge and differences fade. The project also intends to conduct professional development and training for faculty and administrators from other Hispanic postsecondary institutions for the same purpose. In order to implement this project, the institution will provide the facilities and technological infrastructure needed for the achievement of the goals. Project FADE's main goal is to ensure that Hispanic students with disabilities in Puerto Rico receive a high quality postsecondary education. Within this major purpose are two important goals: (1) to provide faculty and administrators with the skills and support necessary to teach and assist Hispanic students with disabilities; and (2) to conduct professional development and training sessions for faculty and administrators from other Hispanic postsecondary institutions to meet the needs of students with disabilities. To accomplish these goals, FADE will provide: (1) coherent, sustained training firmly grounded in the needs of students with disabilities, aligned to law, and focused on improving the teaching and learning process through the use of assistive technology as a facilitating tool; and (2) establishment of a center to provide continuous support for administrators and faculty members and help them integrate innovative strategies, methods, and technology into postsecondary education for students with disabilities. This project will recruit 42 faculty members and will offer them training, implementation, evaluation activities, and experience at the rate of 14 participants per training session. In addition, administrators and faculty from other higher education institutions will also be impacted. A multiplying effect in the awareness, skills, and disposition to ensure quality postsecondary education for students with disabilities, during the three-year grant period and beyond, is expected as a major outcome of this project.

Project Director: Maria Torres Carrasquillo
Telephone Number: 787-766-1717
E-mail: matorres@suagm.edu

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University of Alaska - Anchorage
College Access Program for Rural Alaska (CAPRA)

College Access Project for Rural Alaska (CAPRA) funding will increase the capacity of small rural university campuses to provide students with disabilities with a quality higher education. CAPRA will provide training and technical assistance to adjunct and full-time faculty to improve knowledge, understanding, and classroom delivery to accommodate students with disabilities. Adjunct faculty comprise over 80 percent of faculty at the small, rural campuses within the University of Alaska system, and the system has been challenged to deliver the training and support needed to adapt curriculum and classroom delivery for students with disabilities. CAPRA is a collaboration between the University of Alaska - Anchorage's Disability Support Services and its Center for Human Development that will: (1) design and deliver train-the-trainer workshops for campus Disability Support Coordinators on topics that include disability awareness, student rights and responsibilities, Universal Design of Instruction, accommodations, and assistive technology; (2) provide training on rural campuses for adjunct and full-time faculty; (3) provide multi-modality technical assistance and outreach statewide, on a sustainable basis; and (4) evaluate training and technical assistance based on effectiveness measures. To increase the number of students with disabilities who enroll in college courses throughout the rural campuses, information about Disability Support Services will be widely disseminated to students, faculty, local high school counselors, and community disability providers such as Vocational Rehabilitation. The project activities of CAPRA will demonstrate improved educational outcomes for students and improved classroom instruction by adjunct and full-time faculty at Alaska's very small higher education institutions.

Project Director: Marjorie Kassier
Telephone Number: 907-264-6240
E-mail: anmrk@uaa.alaska.edu

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University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Postsecondary Academic & Curriculum Excellence 3 (PACE 3)

The hurdles disability service offices face in providing professional development to faculty members are well known, and as the number of students with disabilities increases, the problem increases. Students are often aware of the uncertainty faculty feel and are therefore hesitant to disclose their disabilities or request accommodations. PACE 3 will provide faculty with tools to help them reach all students, utilizing principles of Universal Design for Instruction. PACE 3 will follow two successful model demonstration grant projects at the University of Arkansas - Little Rock (UALR) that focused on educating a core group of 90 academic department chairs and faculty who, as members of the Faculty Resource Council on Disability, serve as a resource to other faculty (PACE 1) and on guiding faculty to make changes in their courses and departmental processes based on principles of Universal Design (PACE 2). These projects have had a positive impact on the campus culture as well as on student success but, as with change in any large institution, permanent and systemic change takes a long time. Faculty and administrators who participated in these projects will assist in this process by sharing their successes with other faculty. PACE has built a strong reputation on campus, as well as throughout the state, and staff will not need to waste precious time getting established. PACE 3 is in an ideal position to build on earlier successes locally and to disseminate models, products, and resources nationwide. It will implement models in two separate, but sometimes overlapping, areas. The first objective will target faculty and administrators who play key roles in the information technology infrastructure on campus, with the outcome of increased usability and accessibility of software applications, web information, online instruction, and hardware. Playing the role of facilitator, staff will: (1) bring together parties involved in their own separate spheres of technology; (2) work to solve common problems or problems that are separate pieces of the larger picture; and (3) provide individualized technical assistance. The second objective will target faculty and administrators at UALR, as well as at a minimum of eight other postsecondary institutions in Arkansas. Staff will guide faculty through the process of modifying courses and departmental functions such as Web sites and labs, and it will also provide professional development to faculty and academic administrators. Products, including a Web-based training tool on Universal Design and replication guidelines, will be developed and disseminated. An external evaluator will provide assessment results throughout the project so that changes can be made to improve the process during the grant's three years. This project will work with a diverse faculty that teaches in a wide range of disciplines. It will reach a diverse student population both on an urban campus and throughout a rural state. The interest and potential are in place to achieve a high level of excellence on the part of many UALR faculty in successfully teaching students with disabilities, as will be evidenced by increased retention and graduation rates and through feedback provided by students and faculty.

Project Director: Melanie Thornton
Telephone Number: 501-569-3162
E-mail Address: mpthornton@ualr.edu

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University of Hawaii
Innovative and Sustainable Teaching Methods and Strategies to Enhance the Quality of Higher Education for Students with Disabilities

The Innovative and Sustainable Teaching Methods Program (IST) has been developed with a wide range of stakeholders, including faculty, students with disabilities, groups representing students with disabilities, disability support centers, and faculty development centers within the University of Hawaii (UH) system. IST will: (1) synthesize research and information related to priority areas of need in the provision of postsecondary education services to students with disabilities; (2) develop innovative, effective, and efficient teaching, accommodation, and support strategies for faculty and administrators, impacting on the attitudes, knowledge, and skills necessary for students with disabilities to retain and complete their program of study; and (3) deliver professional development and training sessions within a rigorous field-test design with faculty and administrators throughout the UH system, including all 10 university and community college branches. IST is designed to include innovative methods to improve outcomes for faculty to enhance the success of students with disabilities by meeting: (1) the professional development needs of faculty and administrators through the use of emerging educational and assistive technologies; and (2) specifically targeting students of greatest need, including students with hidden disabilities, those of minority culture, and those who are experiencing circumstances such as poverty. IST will identify and prepare students with disabilities to provide faculty and administrators with tools to develop innovative, effective, and efficient teaching methods and strategies enhancing the quality of education for all students. Initial phases of the project have been planned, developed, and will be implemented by a team consisting of the University of Hawaii - Manoa's Center on Disability Studies and the Office of Faculty Development and Academic Support, Center on Teaching Excellence, in partnership with the Disability Support Office. Replication and sustainability will be piloted in the UH system and replicated through Capacity Building Institutes and Web-based modules nationally. IST will reach over 500 faculty and administrators and 200 teaching assistants, doctoral students, and instructors with direct face-to-face instruction within the UH system. Thousands more will be trained and educated through face-to-face and Web-focused dissemination of an emerging educational and assistive technologies component of the IST program.

Project Director: Robert Stodden
Telephone Number: 808-956-9199
E-mail: stodden@hawaii.edu

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University of Massachusetts
Equity and Excellence in Higher Education: Universal Course Design that Supports All Students in Gaining Access To and Completing a Postsecondary Education

This project will demonstrate how the application of the Universal Course Design (UCD) model positively impacts the academic success of all students, including students with disabilities. Current research related to postsecondary education of students with disabilities shows an emphasis on providing accommodations and support for students, with little focus on the impact of course development or the instructional methods and assessment strategies used by faculty on their academic success. The UCD model is a proactive concept developed by the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts - Boston and the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire. UCD is founded on evidence-based practices (e.g., Universal Design for Learning and differentiated instruction) and has been tested with seven New England two- and four-year colleges through a prior U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education project. The overall goal of this project is to ensure that students with disabilities receive a quality higher education through the refinement, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of the UCD model of comprehensive professional development for college faculty, administrators, and support personnel. The project proposes to form the Equity and Excellence New England Consortium of Higher Education with five University Centers for Excellence on Disability (UCEDs) and their host Institutes of Higher Education (IHEs) (i.e., the Universities of Maine, Massachusetts - Boston, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island College). Each UCED will be required to develop a UCD team composed of five core members, including a liaison from the UCED and IHE personnel from Information Technology, Library, Instructional Technology, and Disability Support Services. In addition, the UCEDs will conduct campus-wide outreach to recruit five faculty members in each of five semesters of the grant (N=125 faculty; 25 in year one, 50 each in years two and three) to be part of the UCD team. During the first semester of year one, the UCD toolkit will be refined and distance education elements and replication materials will be developed, piloted, and finalized. Core team members will be permanent participants and act as trainers in year one. Each semester, the UCED liaison will recruit and train faculty members to use the UCD toolkit and replication guide. A virtual and face-to-face faculty-to-faculty mentor network will be established. Project staff will also provide technical assistance virtually and face-to-face throughout the grant period.

Project Director: Debra Hart
Telephone Number: 617-287-4341
E-mail Address: debra.hart@umb.edu

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University of Minnesota Regents
Pedagogy and Student Services for Institutional Transformation (PASSIT)

PASS IT, a collaboration between the University of Minnesota Disability Services and the General College and its Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy, seeks to address a compelling need in higher education by developing a corps of trainers to facilitate professional development workshops in the implementation of Universal Design (UD) and Universal Instructional Design (UID) in higher education. UID, an adaptation of the architectural concept of Universal Design, is a relatively new model for providing access to higher education for students with disabilities. Through UD and UID, staff and faculty create more welcoming spaces for all students by rethinking professional practices to develop curricula and programs that are inclusive for all learners. When faculty and staff implement UD and UID as they begin planning for a course, program, or activity by taking into consideration the strengths and challenges of all students, they reduce or eliminate the need to provide last-minute accommodations or to segregate students on the basis of individual needs. Many professionals who work in postsecondary disability services are well informed about Universal Design and Universal Instructional Design. However, the word has not spread to many professionals who might implement UD and UID in their daily practice, specifically the faculty members and student services personnel who are the focus of this project. PASS IT will seek to inform and equip postsecondary educators to implement UID using a train the trainer format. By offering summer institutes, workshops at professional meetings, and departmental in-service training, as well as by creating a national database of trainers and professional development tools, discipline-specific guidebooks that will be accessible in multiple formats, and a video, this project will educate faculty members and student services professionals who can teach others and disseminate materials that focus on implementing UID in specific disciplinary and administrative areas. Each of the project faculty and staff members will be involved in making presentations at professional meetings in their areas of expertise over the three years of the grant. In addition, each of the 30 participants in the first year Summer Institute will be expected to provide an in-service training workshop at his or her home campus, as well as a session at a professional conference. Even if participation in each workshop is provided to a mere 10 faculty or staff members, it is anticipated that in the first year of the grant more than 250 professionals will learn how to implement UD and UID in their daily practice. An additional 800 or more will be involved in professional development in the second year. By the third year, when the national database of trainers is implemented and participants in the second Summer Institute are spearheading institution-wide efforts on their home campuses, the project will impact more than 1,000 faculty and staff.

Project Director: Jeanne L. Higbee
Telephone Number: 612-625-8015
E-mail: higbe002@umn.edu

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University of Southern Mississippi
Access for All

The project developed by the Institute for Disability Studies, Mississippi's University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the University of Southern Mississippi, is designed to develop innovative, effective, and efficient teaching methods and strategies and conduct professional development and training sessions for faculty and administrators from other institutions of higher education (IHEs). The primary purpose of the project is to ensure that faculty and administrators at IHEs across Mississippi have the skills and support needed to meet the educational needs of students with disabilities. There are two project goals designed to meet the purpose of the project. The primary task of goal one is to develop or refine teaching strategies that will provide faculty and administrators across IHEs in the state with the information, training, and technical assistance necessary to increase their capacity to provide quality postsecondary learning opportunities for students with disabilities. The primary task of goal two is to conduct professional development and training for faculty and administrators from other universities and community colleges across Mississippi in order to enable administrators and faculty to meet the postsecondary needs of students with disabilities. Seven objectives and corresponding activities to ensure successful completion of each goal have been developed. The quality of the learning opportunities will enhance or impede graduation rates, employment outcomes, and ultimately quality of life outcomes for these students. Therefore, it is essential that faculty and administrators are aware of the barriers that exist to academic program access and quality learning opportunities. Once barriers to access are identified, faculty and administrators will develop the knowledge and skills necessary to overcome barriers, while at the same time maintaining program integrity and excellence for all students.

Project Director: Jane Siders
Telephone Number: 601-266-4119
E-mail: jane.siders@usm.edu

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University of Washington
AccessCollege

DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) at the University of Washington has, since 1992, worked to increase the representation of individuals with disabilities in postsecondary education and employment. In 1999, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) funded DO-IT Prof, which created professional development materials and trained faculty and administrators nationwide to more fully include students with disabilities in their courses. In 2002, OPE funded DO-IT Admin, which expanded DO-IT Prof efforts to train student service administrators and staff, as well. Project team members further identified the critical need to systematically change policies, procedures, and practices in order for both Universal Design and reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities to be embraced at an institutional level, and several strategies were piloted in DO-IT Prof and DO-IT Admin. AccessCollege will continue to offer and refine the successful professional development and resources for faculty and administrators of earlier projects and complement them with the identification, validation, and application of systemic change indicators to document institutional change toward more accessible courses and services. AccessCollege staff will build project methods and materials from earlier work and current research through a nationwide collaboration with a team of faculty and administrators representing 24 two- and four-year institutions, each paired with another campus. Together, they represent institutions with a wide range of characteristics. Staff and team members will: (1) develop and deliver professional development and technical assistance using multiple delivery systems, including a new comprehensive Summer Institute for Faculty and Academic Administrators; (2) evaluate effectiveness using indicators of faculty change and improved student success; (3) identify systemic strategies that can be used at postsecondary institutions with a wide variety of characteristics to apply Universal Design and become more inclusive of students with disabilities; (4) develop and validate systemic change indicators; (5) use pre- and post-checklists to document institutional changes in policies, procedures, and practices; (6) improve the accessibility of activities and products of professional organizations; and (7) publish articles and a book, and distribute training videos, publications, and Web resources to disseminate successful practices that make postsecondary institutions more inclusive of students with disabilities and thereby increase their opportunities for success in college and careers.

Project Director: Sheryl E. Burgstahler
Telephone Number: 206-685-3648
E-mail: sherylb@u.washington.edu

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University of Wisconsin Board of Regents
ACCESS-ED

Institutions of higher education provide services to students with disabilities predominantly in a one-to-one student-staff service delivery model. However, a variety of factors limit the effectiveness of this model. A primary problem in this model is that since students must declare their disabilities in order to be served, it fails to serve students who do not declare their disabilities and is not scalable to support high incidence disabilities. Secondly, this is an accommodation model that does not make the higher education community more accessible by design. Finally, a large proportion of service provision tends to be delivered by disability student services, separate from faculty. When combined, these shortcomings suggest the need for new strategies and a new service delivery model. The ACCESS-ED Project will develop, infuse, and test a process to deliver an infrastructure that can self-sustain a campus-wide universal design instructional environment. To achieve these goals, a multi-faceted change process will simultaneously implement top-down, bottom-up, and middle-out change strategies. The project acknowledges barriers often cited by administrators, faculty and staff and has specifically designed processes to surmount two of them. To respond to the need for more practical Universal Design ideas and resources, the ACCESS-ED Project will aggregate and maintain an international inventory of the growing Universal Design strategies and tools, providing friendly access through a searchable Web resource database. Additionally, new key supports specific to higher education will be created, such as protocols for Universal Designed thesis and dissertation documents, forms review protocols to support services such as those in financial aid offices, checklists for accessible presentations in large classroom lectures, and procedures for auditing hands-on laboratory experiences. To energize the faculty and staff with these ideas the ACCESS-ED Project will promote a change agent on the departmental level called the DARC (Department Accessibility Resource Coordinator). Based on the successful implementation of this model on the University of Wisconsin - Madison campus focusing on web accessibility, the ACCESS-ED team will revise, implement, evaluate, and expand this approach. DARCs will be empowered as the key links between the units they represent and the Universal design information, strategies, and tools. They will be instructed with specific ideas such as asking to be placed regularly on the department meeting agenda, will be provided with regular in-service opportunities to grow and maintain their expertise in Universal Design strategies, and will participate as a network of campus Universal Design partners.

Project Director: Roger O. Smith
Telephone Number: 414-229-5625
E-mail: smithro@uwm.edu

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Last Modified: 09/30/2014