Refocus: Collaboration

What is current practice?

Disability service professionals provide resources to students, serve on campus committees, and collaborate with campus personnel to resolve access issues and ensure compliance with legal mandates. Common collaborations typically are reactive.

  • Residence Life – disability etiquette, companion animals, disability simulation
  • Campus Committees – eligibility for course substitutions, student conduct and direct threat
  • Facilities – parking permits, special classroom furniture, elevators
  • Admissions – special considerations for disabled students
  • General Petitions – retroactive withdrawals

What are the implicit messages?

  • Collaboration is unnecessary unless there is an individual complaint or request.
  • Disability is not relevant to campus diversity, social justice or equity efforts.
  • Disability is a problem that concerns all parts of the campus.

How Could This Be Different?

In addition to the reactive collaboration that is certainly necessary, disability resource professionals could also take a leadership role in the design of campus environments and the inclusion of disability into programs and activities. By modeling a proactive approach, resource professionals can assist the campus community to think about good design and infuse disability into programs, services, events, activities, and curricula.

  • Faculty development offers training on inclusive curricular design.
  • Campus common reading experiences include disability content or narratives.
  • Art and theatre departments showcase disability through art, media, and performance.
  • Campus recreational activities include adaptive sports.
  • Cultural centers infuse disability in their programs.

What is the potential impact of this change?

  • Disability is viewed as a key component of diversity, and worthy of exploration and discussion.
  • Campus events promote appreciation of disability culture and community.
  • The campus community begins to develop a critical voice about disability, similar to race, gender, and sexual orientation.
  • Disability is a key aspect of what it means to be human.

Related Resources

Staegar-Wilson, K and Sampson, Douglas. (2012). “Infusing JUST Design in Campus Recreation”. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability. Association on Higher Education and Disability: 25 (3), 247-252.

Smith, R and Buchannan, T. (2012). “Community Collaboration, Use of Universal Design in the Classroom”. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability. Association on Higher Education and Disability: 25 (3), 259 – 265.

Bigelow, K. (2012). “Designing for Success: Developing Engineers Who Consider Universal Design Principles”. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability. Association on Higher Education and Disability: 25 (3), 211-225.