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

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FY 1999 Project Abstracts

University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR): Postsecondary Academic and Curriculum Excellence - Project PACE

It is the intent of Project PACE to produce systems change at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and other University of Arkansas (UA) campuses through a peer teaching model and development of training materials that will teach faculty and administrators to meet the needs of students with disabilities. The UA campuses comprise four four-year institutions (including UALR), a medical sciences campus, and three community colleges.

Development of products will focus on reaching a broader group of faculty and administrators within the UA system as well as other interested postsecondary institutions in the state. These products include:

  • Two additional faculty training videotapes on teaching strategies for students with visual and with learning disabilities (one on teaching students who are deaf or hard of hearing has already been completed and also will be used)
  • A revision of UALR’s faculty handbook on accommodating students with disabilities, and development of a faculty handbook template which can be used by any institution to develop and customize their own faculty handbooks
  • Discipline-specific handbooks for teaching students with disabilities within specific disciplines or across broader disciplines (e.g., social sciences)
  • A Web site designed to provide current information, resources, and interactive discussion of disability issues in higher education
  • A guide to implementing Web accessibility on other campuses
  • An adaptive technology resource guide of the uses for adaptive technology, vendors and technical assistance centers
  • A quarterly newsletter on disability issues for faculty and administrators

Project Director: Melanie Thornton
Telephone Number: (501) 569-3143
E-mail Address:


California State University - Northridge: Preparing Postsecondary Professionals (P3)

Preparing Postsecondary Professionals, the P3 project will improve the access of educational settings for students with disabilities in mainstreamed settings using state-of-the-art research and innovative technological methods. This project focuses on improving the access of educational settings for students with communication disabilities, those who are deaf, and those who are hard of hearing. Because most students who are deaf and hard of hearing attend mainstreamed institutions of higher education, there is a need for systemic change in institutions to provide equal access and opportunity to these students.

Goal One is to create 20 in-service training modules, which are designed to provide insight and instruction to higher education administrators and college and university faculty. The modules will be replicable, use innovative technology and teaching strategies, and be available to alternative formats ensuring accessibility.

Goal Two is to provide and evaluate innovative in-service training and technical assistance to higher education administrators and college and university faculty. Evaluation results will be used in the development of state-of-the-art research and materials available not only to participating institutions, but to institutions across the United States.

Goal Three is to increase the capacity of administrators and faculty to better understand and meet the needs of students who are deaf and those who are hard of hearing in their settings. This Goal involves the creating of model demonstration packages that include best practices, white papers, presentations, publications, and the dissemination of project products.

Project Director: Merri C. Pearson
Telephone: (818) 677-2611


University of Connecticut: Assuring Equal Academic Access for College Students with Learning Disabilities by Implementing Universal Design in the Instructional Environment

This project will apply the principles of Universal Design to instruction to promote academic access for all students including those with learning disabilities.

The project will identify barriers to equal access to instruction so that approaches and products to overcome those barriers can be developed. It will also identify the components of effective instruction especially as they relate to students with learning and cognitive disabilities. Products will be field-tested, evaluated, revised, and packaged. State-of-the-art distance learning technologies will be used to make the products easily accessible to faculty and administrators at colleges throughout the country. Collaboration with Undergraduate Deans and college Teaching and Learning Centers and Faculty/Instructional Resource Labs will be the primary conduits for dissemination and use on a national scale.

Major Project Goals

  1. To identify barriers/bridges to the assurance of academic access as perceived by students with learning disabilities (LD), faculty, and administrators.
  2. To establish Instructional Excellence Administrative Teams for the purpose of implementing Universal Instructional Design across al elements of the academic milieu.
  3. To apply the concept of Universal Design to the instructional environment to develop approaches and products that will ensure students with LD a quality higher education program using exemplary college instructors, classes, and materials across the spectrum of academic environments (e.g., large lecture class, seminar, lab) and academic departments.
  4. To field-test, evaluate, and revise the products and materials.
  5. To package the products and materials using high quality and easy to access state-of-the-art distance learning technologies.
  6. To distribute and evaluate the products and materials through collaboration with Undergraduate Deans, Teaching and Learning Centers, Faculty/Instructional Resource Labs, and higher education organizations nationally, as well as through voice, print, and electronic media.

Project Director: Dr. Stan Shaw
Telephone: (860) 486-0208


University of Kansas: The Open-Door Project -- Enabling Access to Instruction in Higher Education

One of the most significant barriers obstructing the access of students with disabilities to quality education in institutions of higher education is the nature of instruction offered by faculty in college and university classes. The purpose of this project has been to open the doors of institutions of higher education to students with disabilities by developing an array of support materials for use by college and university faculty for effectively teaching these students. Each of the support materials is based on instructional methods that have been designed and validated for use in teaching complex academic content to academically diverse classes that include students with learning disabilities (LD). To promote optimal use of these validated instructional methods, they have been made available to college and university faculty via a CD-ROM format. Detailed, step-by-step guidelines, along with accompanying practice exercises, and models on how to effectively incorporate these validated instructional methods into college/university classes are included on the CD-ROM.

The validated instructional approach that is the centerpiece of the Open-Door Project is based on nearly 20 years of research and development at the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning (KU-CRL); it is called Content Enhancement. Content Enhancement is an approach to planning instruction for and teaching curriculum content and skills to academically diverse groups of students. It involves making decisions about what content to teach, manipulating that content into easy-to-understand formats, and presenting it in memorable ways.

The Content Enhancement approach is based on several validated instructional principles. Specifically, research has shown that students with LD learn more when they are actively involved in the learning process, when abstract, complex concepts are presented in concrete forms, when information is organized for them, when new information is tied to previously learned information, when important information is distinguished from unimportant information, when relationships among pieces of information are made explicit, and when they are involved in an apprenticeship and are shown how to learn specific types of content. Because application of these principles helps most learners, use of the Content Enhancement approach meets both group and individual needs while maintaining the integrity of the content.

The CD-ROM (which features several Content Enhancement routines) is accompanied by a collection of print-based materials that support the application of the Content Enhancement routines. The KU-CRL Web site ( contains a broad array of research reports and other instructional materials supportive of the Open-Door products including information on how to gain access to the KU-CRLs International Professional Development Network.


Buffalo State College: Ensuring Quality Instruction for Persons with Disabilities (EQUIP-D)

Buffalo State College is proposing a three-phase project that will create systemic change in the delivery of a quality education to students with disabilities in central and western New York and throughout the nation. The project will build on the strength of the special education program, the largest in New York State and one of the largest in the country, and the resources provided by the college's Center for Research in Interactive Technology and the Faculty and Staff Technology Development Center. It will be supported by the Special Services for Students with Disabilities, Career Development Center, Counseling Center, and the Office of Equity and Campus Diversity. The project has the endorsement of all academic deans, the provost, and the president of the college, as well as the support from the administrations of five two-year community colleges and four-year public and private colleges in central and western New York. In addition, the project is supported by the State University of New York (SUNY) Director of Programs for Students with Disabilities and the western New York Transition Consortium consisting of secondary school disabilities coordinators.

The professional development program will address administrator and faculty needs and concerns regarding legal issues, assessment, effective teaching strategies, issues related to adult learners with disabilities, and effective course modifications and accommodations for students with disabilities.

Project Director: Katherine C. Sacca
Telephone: (716) 878-4639


University of Minnesota: Curriculum Transformation and Disability (CTAD)

In response to the compelling need for a more comprehensive approach to universally designed curriculum for students with disabilities, General College and Disability Services at the University of Minnesota have partnered to address the critical area of faculty understanding of disability issues and inclusive curriculum. This partnership seeks to develop, implement, evaluate, and disseminate a nationally replicable model for more effectively teaching students with disabilities.

The following components comprise the heart of CTAD activities:

  1. Formal Training. Groups of up to twenty faculty and administrators will be invited to receive 15 hours of stipended classroom training over the course of one week
  2. Technical Assistance. CTAD will maintain a full-time office, and CTAD staff will be available to provide and will proactively initiate technical assistance via phone, email, or fax to all trainees.
  3. Web Site and Listserv. The CTAD Web site will contain links to articles and other research relating to Universal Instructional Design, as well as summaries of other related literature.
  4. Learning by Teaching. Each CTAD core participant will be expected to present a summary of his/her CTAD training to at least 10 faculty and administrative colleagues.
  5. Dissemination Materials. By year two, CTAD staff will begin publishing articles about this project in scholarly journals, as well as presenting the information at professional conferences and meetings around the country.

Project Directors: Terence G. Collins and Donna Johnson
Telephone: (612) 625-5366 and (612) 626-9654


University of New Hampshire: Equity and Excellence in Higher Education

This project, entitled Equity and Excellence in Higher Education, is designed to address the inter-related problems of poor educational outcomes for college students with disabilities and college faculty’s lack of knowledge in the area of effective curriculum and instruction for diverse learners. To date, the vast majority of research and demonstration concerning success for students with disabilities in post-secondary education focuses almost exclusively on the accommodations and supports students with disabilities require. While this project does not deny the necessity and value of reasonable accommodation for disability, it is troublesome that there is a noticeable gap in the literature addressing how the method of curriculum and instruction in college classes can impact the academic success of students with disabilities.

The four components of the comprehensive model of professional development:

  1. The provision of in-depth and applicable training in the area of effective curriculum design and instruction (Onosko & Jorgensen, 1997). Training will be provided through multiple sources, including site-based and Web-based workshops, statewide training series, a training institute conducted in collaboration with the long-standing Lilly New England Conference on College and University Teaching, and a one-day fall symposium sponsored by the Pedagogy Committee for the Technical and Community College System of New Hampshire.
  2. Research-to-practice technical assistance through the support of "reflective practice groups" comprised of students with disabilities, faculty, and support personnel dedicated to practicing, refining, and evaluating curriculum design and instructional strategies. A key element of the technical assistance support for the sites will be the identification of a "critical friend" (Olson, 1994) – an "outsider on the inside" – who is an expert on curriculum, instruction, and supporting students with disabilities – to work with them as they try out and refine the curriculum design process.
  3. Student-specific technical assistance to teams for students who present extraordinary learning challenges.

Project Director: Jan Nisbet
Telephone: (603) 862-4320


Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU): Ensuring Quality Medical and Allied Health Higher Education for Students with Disabilities -- A System’s Change Demonstration Project

The Center on Self-Determination of the Oregon Institute on Disability and Development (OIDD) (the University Affiliated Program) at OHSU will partner with the Office of Academic Affairs and the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity, to design and implement the Project approaches. Through a subcontract with Portland Community College, its Office for Students with Disabilities will also coordinate the implementation of these innovative approaches in its health professions programs. In addition, the Project strategies will be replicated at Dartmouth Medical School and the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center.

Key Project Objectives:

  • Synthesize Research and Information. The Project will search for and synthesize research and information on health professions’ postsecondary education programs and their efforts to include, train, and accommodate students with disabilities.
  • Develop and Implement Innovative Teaching Strategies for Faculty and Staff. The project will implement five key innovative strategies for enhancing the capacity of faculty and staff to teach and accommodate students with disabilities.
  • Planning to Ensure Systemic Change. Two innovative approaches will be used to ensure that changes are made systemically and are sustained after the Project is concluded.
  • Professional Development and Training. The Project will conduct professional development and training with other postsecondary institutions’ faculty and administrators in Oregon through televised EdNet distance learning and through presentations at the Oregon conferences.
  • Disseminate Project Approaches and Outcomes. The project will coordinate its activities with and disseminate information through the Rehabilitation and Research Training Center (RRTC) on Educational Supports and the American Council on Education’s (ACE) National Clearinghouse on Postsecondary Education for Individuals with Disabilities.
  • Evaluate the Effectiveness of the Project’s Approaches and Strategies. A number of measures will be utilized to evaluate the impact of the Project at the implementation and replication institutions, including the number of students with disabilities who are enrolled and who graduate, the perceptions of faculty regarding their capacity to provide a quality education to students with disabilities, and the actual knowledge and skills of faculty and staff related to teaching and accommodating these students. Data will be collected from multiple stakeholders, including students, faculty, and staff.

Project Director: Jo-Ann Sowers, Ph.D.
Telephone: (503) 232-9154 (ext. 123)


Utah State University: The Development of a Training and Support System for Faculty, Teaching Assistants and Administrators to Improve the Quality of Postsecondary Education for Students with Disabilities

The purpose of this project is to improve the quality of postsecondary education for students with disabilities by (a) developing an effective replicable training program to teach faculty, teaching assistants and administrators to provide accommodations to students; and (b) developing and implementing a support system for those personnel to help them carry out the accommodations.

Goal 1: A three-tier Training and Support System for Faculty, Teaching Assistants (TAs), and Administrators. This three-tier system includes: Tier 1 – Faculty/ TA/ Administrator Training; Tier 2 – Web based information and support; Tier 3 – Personalized, on-call technical assistance and support to faculty, TAs and administrators. Within Goal 1, the faculty, TA and administrator training curriculum to be developed, implemented, and evaluated will result in a multimedia, CD-ROM based program in order to facilitate dissemination and replication.

Goal 2: Systematically replicate the faculty, teaching assistant, and administrator training and support programs via distance education technology with faculty at remote sites through the USU extension offices, and other institutions of higher education.

Goal 3: National Dissemination. This project proposes a systematic plan to replicate the training programs and to disseminate the curricula nationally. First, several universities associated with the national network of University-Affiliated Programs have agreed to be replication sites. Second, several national associations will assist in providing information about the training programs to their national constituencies.

Project Director: Charles Salzberg
Telephone: (435) 797-3234


Landmark College: Outreach Project for Learning Disabilities Education

The College will embark on an unparalleled materials and strategies development program, designed to address the most common and most difficult learning disabilities issues confronting postsecondary educators. The College will develop a "train the trainers" component of the Outreach Program, to guarantee that presenters will have the skills necessary to train their peers. Landmark math faculty will present workshops dealing with ADHD and the Introductory Math Student; Landmark Administrators will present workshops dealing with Budgeting for LD Services and Assistive Technology and How to Assure Compliance with the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504. Landmark counseling staff will present workshops dealing with Emotional and Social Issues of the LD Student. Indeed, the full range and depth of Landmark expertise will support this Activity.

An essential component of Activity C will be training for college and university personnel in the availability and use of new and emerging assistive technologies. Landmark College is a leading proponent of the use of certain technologies that enhance education for those with specific learning disabilities. These technologies help a student, but they do not allow him/her to cut any academic corners. Among the assistive technologies that Landmark will explain and promote will be the Text to Speech and Voice Recognition technology. Applications to specific subject matter will be explored, as will identification of students who might benefit from these devices.

Project Director: Paul Petritis
Telephone: (802) 387-6706


University of Washington: DO-IT Prof

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 post-secondary education and employment through direct work with students who have disabilities; professional development for faculty, teachers, service providers, and employers; and information dissemination. DO-IT has been recognized for its efforts through several awards including the 1995 National Information Infrastructure Award in Education and the 1997 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. The DO-IT Prof model demonstration project is applying lessons learned by DO-IT and other programs and researchers nationwide to implement a comprehensive professional development program for college faculty and administrators. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Education (grant #P33A990042) and directed by Dr. Shirley Burgstahler.

DO-IT Prof serves to improve the knowledge and skills of post-secondary faculty and administrators in order to make them better prepared to fully include students with disabilities in academic programs on their campuses. Responding to the diverse content and scheduling needs of faculty and administrators, the DO-IT Prof project team will create and deliver at least six models of professional development.

Model 1: A 20-30 minute presentation to be delivered to faculty and administrators at regular departmental meetings to introduce participants to basic legal issues, accommodation strategies, and resources specific to their campus.

Model 2: A 1-2 hour departmental meeting presentation with special focus on providing accommodations to students with a variety of disabilities.

Model 3: A half-day or full-day workshop for more in-depth training, typically offered on a campus-wide basis.

Model 4: A televised instruction option using a series of videotapes to deliver one-hour program on public television.

Model 5: A distance learning "anytime-anywhere" course that provides lessons and discussion delivered via electronic mail.

Model 6: Self-paced, Web-based instruction with expanded content of other models including downloadable videos.

The project team will include faculty and disabled student services administrators at institutions of higher education in twenty states. The selection of members of the project team is based on diversity issues, past efforts in this area, and potential to contribute to project efforts. Members of AHEAD (Association for Higher Education and Disability) and WAPED (Washington Association on Postsecondary Education and Disability) are part of the project team. In addition, students with disabilities will participate in project efforts.

Project team members will participate in two three-day collaborative meetings in Seattle on the University of Washington campus. Prior to the first meeting which occurs February 16-18, 2000, each team member will conduct a focus group with students with disabilities or faculty and deliver at least one presentation to faculty on campus. At the first meeting they will discuss faculty and administrator professional development and technical support issues and strategies, begin drafting professional development materials, make data collection plans, and create presentation timelines for their home institutions.

Project team members schools will each choose an institutional partner in their state. If a team member is from a four-year institution, his/her partner school will be a community or technical college; if he/she is from a community or technical college, the partner school will be a four-year school. The school selected as a partner will have demographics (e.g., racial mix, size, location) that are different than the project team institution. At the team member's campus and partner campus, professional development programs will be delivered, materials will be disseminated, and strategies for providing additional technical assistance to faculty and administrators will be explored. Formative feedback will be provided to other participants and project staff via an active internet discussion list managed by DO-IT Prof staff.

At the second collaborative meeting, which will occur in 2001, project team members will share lessons learned and work on finalizing project materials and strategies. Partners will return to their home states and continue to deliver programs, provide formative feedback and statistics, and institutionalize strategies in their institutions and partner schools. DO-IT Prof staff will deliver the on-line and televised instructional options (Models 4-6), and project team members will publicize them in their state. Once the project materials are finalized, DO-IT Prof staff will disseminate project materials nationwide. After federal funding is complete, DO-IT will continue to offer on-line and televised models and disseminate project materials. All project materials, including the on-line resources, videotapes, and printed materials, will be offered in formats that are readily accessible to individuals with disabilities

Although various campuses around the country, like the University of Washington, have developed fragmented programs to increase faculty awareness, no one has created a comprehensive program using the multi-modal delivery mechanisms that will be utilized in this project. Completion of this project will result in faculty and administrators being better prepared to fully include students with disabilities on their campuses and contribute to system change within post-secondary institutions across the nation. Ultimately, this project will result in greater post-secondary educational opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Project Director: Sheryl Burgstahler
Telephone: (206) 543-0622


The University of Arizona – Program to Enhance and Ensure Learning: For Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities are frequently at a disadvantage because institutions of higher education lack knowledge, insight, or a strategic plan for lasting and systemic change of cultures that are still dominated by discriminatory attitudes and traditional teaching methods. These students do not often experience learner-centeredness in colleges and universities, particularly at research at research universities, where faculty often focus more on content than on students and learning.

Our project will:

  1. develop innovative, effective, and efficient teaching methods and strategies to provide faculty and administrators with the empathy, skills, and support necessary to successfully teach students with disabilities;
  2. synthesize research and other information related to the provision of postsecondary educational services to students with disabilities; and
  3. consult with and conduct professional development sessions for other institutions to enable them to better meet the post-secondary needs of students with disabilities.

Project Director: Dr. Terri D. Riffe
Telephone: (520) 621-7788


San Diego State University: Disability Training Prototype for Faculty and Administrators in Higher Education

The San Diego State University Interwork Institute will develop a Prototype of Disability Training for Faculty & Administrators in Higher Education. The overarching goal is to develop a prototype of disability education and training for faculty and administrators to increase their knowledge of disability and the skills and strategies necessary for meeting the postsecondary needs of students with disabilities. The following objectives are presented to operationalize this goal:

  1. To identify essential knowledge, skills, and competencies needed to teach and serve students with disabilities in colleges and universities.
  2. To identify facilitative strategies for the delivery of training content.
  3. To develop disability education/training modules for use in professional development, in-service, and continuing education.
  4. To develop and design a Web site and related delivery mechanisms.
  5. To conduct disability education and training for college/university faculty and administrators.
  6. Tailor technical assistance to each participant’s identified needs and interests.
  7. Produce a Guide to Quality Higher Education for All Students.
  8. To infuse technology into all Prototype components.

Project Director: Bobbie Atkins
Telephone: (619) 594-1569


Northern Illinois University (NIU): Project to Increase Retention and Success of Postsecondary Students with Disabilities Through Innovations in Instruction

The overall goals of the NIU project are:

  • To ensure that postsecondary students with disabilities receive a high quality education by enhancing faculty and administrator skills and attitudes for working with these students.
  • To ensure that postsecondary students with disabilities receive a high quality education by targeting general education and introductory level courses for implementation of accommodative innovations in teaching strategies.
  • To ensure that postsecondary students with disabilities receive a high quality education by developing a portable intervention package that can be used with equal success at 2-year and 4-year colleges.

The NIU project approach will include an in-depth training institute followed by mentoring for faculty and administrators. A total of 50 faculty and administrators will participate over the three-year period. The approach will be field-tested and refined and then tested (and refined if necessary) for portability to the community college setting via a partnership with the Kishwaukee Community College, located in a rural setting 15 miles west of the NIU campus. An additional ten faculty and administrators will be included at the community college site. The final intervention package will include the contents of and procedures for the intensive training, for mentoring, for developing a class/student learning profile, and a computerized catalogued inventory (that will be continuously added to) of accommodations and alternative teaching techniques may be or were used by project trainees.

Project Director: Nancy Long
Telephone: (815) 753-9126


The University of Kentucky: Engaging Differences

The project will research, develop, field test, revise, and validate a set of multi-mediated instructional tutorials with regard to best practices for university administrators, instructional employees (faculty and teaching assistants), and support staff to use when interacting with students with disabilities. The instructional tutorials will utilize a variety of delivery vehicles including CD-ROM, WWW-based instructional modules, asynchronous and synchronous communication links including a Home page with a listserv and chat room component. Additionally, a series of face-to-face (F2F) workshops and tutorials will be developed to support the electronic components as well as to extend the professional development benefits. The various components will comprise a multi-dimensional curriculum with a common core of instruction on the democratic value base of equal access for all students to public education; the legal underpinnings for guaranteeing equal access to a quality education for all individuals; and an overview of the University of Kentucky Affirmative Action guidelines and relevant institutional regulations.

Project Director: William H. Berdine
Telephone: (606) 257-8592


Columbia University – Universal Access Does not Equal Dumbing Down: Stigma, Pedagogy & Elitism

The objective of this project is to educate faculty at selective institutions to become effective teachers of students with invisible disabilities. The project team will create a faculty workshop and related follow-up activities and instructional media that will educated faculty about issues of invisible disabilities and how to teach in an inclusive manner that will benefit all students.

Populations that will be involved in the project will include students and representatives from all members of students’ academic team. This "academic team" would be comprised of all levels and statuses of faculty, teaching fellows, teaching assistants, adjuncts, graduate students, and academic administrators. Students will participate in the initial discussion groups, on-line surveys, and individual discussions to aid in the development of impressions and perspectives held about their academic experiences both in and outside of the classroom. Each selective institution would designate representatives of their "academic team" to participate. First, they would be surveyed, next, involved in discussion groups, and finally, involved in the workshops. Faculty will be represented across disciplines.

Project Director: Dr. Lynne M. Bejoian
Telephone: (212) 854-2388


University of Southern Mississippi: Postsecondary Training and Technical Assistance Project

The Institute for Disability Studies: Mississippi’s University Affiliated Program at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), is proposing a state-wide project to improve services to college students with disabilities through training and technical assistance. Goals identified to meet the purpose of the project are:

  1. USM will develop a statewide postsecondary disability information network.
  2. Design and implement a replicable training and technical assistance process at USM founded on principles of adult education and instructional technology.
  3. Develop and maintain a technology-based information system to provide postsecondary disability training to personnel and students in Mississippi universities, colleges, community colleges, and secondary institutions.
  4. Promote campus-wide positive student awareness about students with disabilities.
  5. Provide outreach training and technical assistance on postsecondary disability issues to faculty, staff, and administrators at Mississippi universities.

Project Director: Jane Siders
Telephone: (601) 266-5163


Ohio State University: Improving the Quality of Higher Education Programs for Students with Disabilities

This project proposes to implement a comprehensive design involving many critical partners across the university and nation. The Nisonger Center, in collaboration with the Provost’s office, the Office for Disability Services (ODS), The Technology Enhanced Learning and Research (TELR) office, a unit of the Chief Communications Officer, the Office of Faculty and Teaching Assistant Development (FTAD), and select colleges and departments from both the Columbus campus and the four regional campuses located in rural areas across Ohio, will ultimately change the culture of one of the largest universities in the United States.

  • Quality technical assistance and supports will be delivered through established liaisons from ODS, TELR, and FTAD to meet immediate needs;
  • Team building among faculty, students and liaisons from ODS, TELR, and FTAD will be facilitated;
  • Strategic planning will be coordinated with each team to define their desired outcomes and develop strategies to achieve these outcomes;
  • Each team will conduct an empowerment evaluation of process and outcome variables and revise activities as recommended.


  1. Expand partnerships among OSU Departments, two-year community colleges, and collaborators at national, regional and local levels to develop innovative, effective, and efficient teaching methods and strategies that provide faculty with the skills and supports necessary to teach students with disabilities.
  2. Synthesize emerging and exemplary strategies, technologies, services, supports and programs that are most successful in improving performance and graduation rates of students with disabilities.
  3. Examine the current status of instructional strategies and teaching methods (academic accommodations, the use of technology and adaptive equipment, counseling and career advising) from three perspectives: (a) faculty and administrators; (b) students with disabilities; and (3) staff from the ODS, TELR, and FTAD.
  4. Deliver widespread professional development through on-line and customized technical assistance and training to faculty and students that is responsive to their identified needs and delivered in their preferred formats, whether it be on-line, in person, and/or through small groups.
  5. Document and evaluate the change in the culture of OSU faculty, staff, and students, through measures of faculty and student satisfaction, and improved academic performance.
  6. Disseminate effective teaching methods and strategies that improve the quality of postsecondary education for students with disabilities through distance learning, regional conferences, and linkages with national partners such as the National Center for the Study of Postsecondary Education Supports RRTC at University of Hawaii, HEATH, and AHEAD.

Project Director: Margo Izzo, Ph.D.
Telephone: (614) 292-9218


Changing the Culture: The University of Rhode Island’s Demonstration to Enhance the Inclusion and Retention of Students with Disabilities in Postsecondary Institutions

A campus culture that treasures and nurtures the contributions of ALL of its community members, including members with disabilities, is culturally competent and is a culture enriched by those contributions. At the University of Rhode Island (URI), as will many institutions, increasing the diversity of the campus community is a major initiative. At the University of Rhode Island, disability is an example of cultural diversity and persons with disabilities are developing a strong voice as members of a diverse community.

Changing the Culture creates an innovative, effective and efficient strategy of providing technical assistance and professional development for faculty and administrators from postsecondary institutions throughout the State of Rhode Island and later to institutions of the PEPNET/NETAC (Northeast Technical Assistance Center) consortium.

We have developed a curriculum package for a professional development week-long seminar to train a core group of disability resource mentors with the skills and supports necessary to teach students with disabilities; these disability resource mentors will then facilitate formal and informal professional development training for their respective department members. During years two and three of the project we will demonstrate and evaluate the training design and disseminate the curriculum package to postsecondary institutions throughout the State of Rhode Island and the Northeast Technical Assistance Center consortium of postsecondary institutions.

Our design of disability resource mentors will systematically increase the number of faculty and administrator beneficiaries during the 3-year span of the grant. This design, analogous to the nautilus, begins with a core shell structure, and continues to add to its own structure in an increasing and interconnected whole. The nautilus-style network of disability resource mentors will continue to increase itself over time, will be permanent and inter-linked, and can continue to function beyond the life of the grant. Disability resource mentors will be paid to participate in an intensive one-week, 30-hour, training institute. The seminar will provide them with enough information and training so that each will be equipped to work with their respective departmental colleagues on the day to day issues of inclusion for students with disabilities.

The one-week institute will include technical expertise regarding adaptive equipment, legal information, knowledge of the impact of the most common disabilities to classroom performance, and cultural awareness training. The curriculum will be based on principles of adult education, experimental learning, and cultural awareness training. Conversations, hypothetical problem-solving scenarios, hands on use of equipment, simulated experience of disability are all examples of experiential learning that will be used throughout the curriculum.

The guiding philosophy of this training curriculum is that disability is an example of cultural diversity. The overall goal of this curriculum is to foster the development of an integrative, accepting and facilitating environment for Rhode Island college students who have disabilities. Our culture endorse a negative stigma of disability that is similar to what other minority groups experience. This stigmatizing can be the most limiting feature of having a disability. Additionally, it impacts all of us by denying the contributions of this group to society at large. Fortunately, information, knowledge and sensitivity can combat this negative stigma and facilitate inclusion. All aspects of society, including higher education, have an obligation to all of its members to facilitate integration of all persons, including persons with disabilities, into the community and to advance their development toward maximal potential. This curriculum will also make use of Instructive Development literature. These concepts are crucial to student retention and persistence. Also integral to the curriculum and design will be the research and literature of the field of Disability Studies, a rich interdisciplinary field that validates the cultural identity of persons and their contributions.

This project, Changing the Culture, will continue to expand the already significant efforts of administrators and faculty at the University of Rhode Island to raise the community's awareness of the significant contributions of persons with disabilities. If it true that the attitude of others is the most negative aspect of having a disability, then projects such as Changing the Culture begin to disintegrate the existing barrier of negative stereotypes. But, more importantly, helping to create a community that is truly culturally competent will prevent negative stereotypes and remove future barriers for our citizens with disabilities.

Principal Investigator
Pamela Rohland, M.A.
Director, Disability Services for Students
(401) 874-2098
Co-Principal Investigator
Susan Roush, Ph.D.
Professor, Physical Therapy
(401) 874-5001
Project Staff
Donna Strobel, B.A.
Graduate Assistant
(401) 874-2098


Virginia Commonwealth University: The VCU Professional Development Academy: Increasing Capacity of University Personnel to Support Students with Disabilities

The Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University will design, implement, and evaluate a training and technical assistance model that will enable university personnel to receive ongoing support and resources to meet the educational needs of students with disabilities. The components of the model have been designed as a result of input from VCU faculty, administrators, and students with disabilities.

The training and technical assistance that will be provided through the Professional Development Academy build on the essential elements of professional development and emphasize:

  1. integrating innovative and effective teaching methods and strategies for students with disabilities with existing knowledge and expertise of university personnel;
  2. involving university personnel and students with disabilities in the planning of professional development programs;
  3. enabling university personnel the opportunity to practice new techniques or technologies before utilizing them; and
  4. providing opportunities for university personnel to interact with their colleagues in other universities to exchange ideas and methods that have proven effective.

Project Director: Dr. Henry G. Rhone
Telephone: (804) 828-1244


University of Wisconsin-Stout: Teachable Moments Faculty Development to Support Students with Disabilities in Postsecondary Settings

The Teachable Moments project will use a combination of just-in-time training, technical support, and professional development activities to provide University of Wisconsin-Stout (UW-Stout) faculty with the skills necessary to teach students with disabilities. It is anticipated that project-effected increases in faculty skill for teaching students with disabilities will lead to: (a) an increase of the number of persons with disabilities choosing to enter project targeted high wage degree programs; (b) improved retention of students after matriculation; and (c) the quality placement of graduates with disabilities in high wage jobs related to their degree programs.

The project title embodies one of the project's key features. That is, the best time to engage faculty in accommodations training is the time at which they most need to apply the training. Teachable Moments is, therefore, a just-in-time training model that seeks to provide instruction to faculty and their departmental colleagues when accommodation services are being provided.

Other elements that define the project include:

  1. the use of pre-selected and departmentally placed faculty to provide mentoring support to their colleagues and "first alert" referral/notification for the University's accommodation staff housed in the Services to Students with Disabilities office;
  2. use of students with disabilities on two, specially constituted, faculty training teams;
  3. creation of a just-in-time training team known as the "Action" Team to provide faculty training during an accommodation;
  4. use of existing accommodation materials housed at the National Clearinghouse, RRTC, and other centers to expand the reach of federal dollars;
  5. creation of a "Growth" Team to maintain skills between accommodation "incidents" and to provide a training vehicle for faculty who cannot participate in JIT training;
  6. building case studies of Action Team interventions for use in training by both teams and to aid in replication; and
  7. use of an advisory Committee that includes representatives from institutions likely to replicate the project and employers likely to provide job placements and/or cooperative learning sites for students in targeted departments.

Project Director: Dr. Pinckney Hall
Telephone: (715) 232-2468


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Last Modified: 09/30/2014