UD Project 3

Original Lesson:

It is undeniable that the classic law class is in desperate need of a universal design make over. A traditional first year law school class takes place in a large lecture hall with fifty or more students with tiered seating so that all of the students can view the professor in the front of the room, at a podium. 

Most lecture based classes last for about 1 hour and 40 minutes without a break, some are longer and a few are shorter.  Lectures are structured so that all students are responsible for reading from their dry casebooks and synthesizing the information in such a way so that if and when they are “cold called” on by a professor the next day, they are able to regurgitate the facts and create a well-informed analysis.  Being “cold called” is when a professor calls on a student at random to ask them about what often seems like a minute detail of the reading.  Often, if the student does not get the right answer, the professor can continue to drill the student until they find the answer in the reading.  This practice is part of law schools’ interpretation of the Socratic method of teaching where teachers are meant to “engage students by asking questions that require generative answers. Ideally, the answers to questions are not a stopping point for thought but are instead a beginning to further analysis and research.”[1]  However, this is not the reality of how the Socratic Method is implemented in most law school classrooms, in part because much of law school is competitive in nature and law students often feel that if their answers to questions are not correct on the first try, professors do not have time or interest in the further analysis and research that is supposed to accompany the Socratic Method.

A recent survey of teaching techniques at American law schools determined that 97% of law-school professors use the Socratic Method in first-year classes.[2]  Law professors praise the tactic for training students to respond quickly and fluently to challenging questions — even if most instructors today employ a “soft” Socratic method, far less combative than the gladiatorial exchanges made famous in the 1973 movie The Paper Chase [this link goes to a short video of one of the iconic Socratic Method scenes].[3]

The Paper Chase is an iconic movie about law school with a quintessential caricature of the Socratic Method. [4]  There are law professors who take issue with this caricature, one professor describes it as “a view of facilitated classroom discourse caricatured in John Osborn’s The Paper Chase and pejoratively identified by contemporary culture as the ‘Socratic method.’”[5] However, even if a professor does not intend to set up a law class in the model of The Paper Chase, law school is organized based on a sense of intimidation, which does not lend itself to a productive learning environment for many learners. Another, more contemporary example of this can be seen in this clip from Legally Blonde.[6]  There is a common adage amongst law students: First year, they scare you to death.  Second year, they work you to death.  And third year, they bore you to death. This is not a very productive learning style for many people.
New Lesson:

A universally designed law class would be located in a room without tiers so that all students could sit in the location that best facilitated their learning, regardless of their mobility.  The podium would also be adaptable for the professor’s mobility and other access needs.  [The Ed Roberts Campus in Berkley, CA, is the epitome of Universal Design- this video gives a brief guided tour (the video is ironically inaccessible…)].  The professor would send out the fully AT adaptable materials the he or she would be using to all students in advance to ensure that every student was able to access the materials in their preferred format.

During class, the professor would read each slide aloud to the class and encourage class participation in the event that a student had a question, but never “cold-call” and put a student on the spot in front of the entire class. The professor would include fully captioned multimedia in his or her power point presentation to illustrate his or her main ideas. In order to track students’ comprehension and take attendance, the professor would use a survey tool such as surveymonkey or zoomerang. In this way, the professor could hold students accountable for the relevant information but avoid humiliating or embarrassing a student who may feel anxiety in such situations. After class, the professor would circulate the video/audio recording of the class as well as a CART transcription of the class, for students who were unable to attend and for students who would like to look back over the class for additional comprehension. All of these forms of multimedia, in addition to a regularly updated syllabus, would be posted on the professor’s blog.  The professor would make him or herself available for additional questions and discussion at designated times. Because law school exams are generally made up of one cumulative exam at the end of the semester, in order to make this exam universally designed the professor would make it a take home exam to alleviate the undue pressure of in class finals and would require that each student formulate their own assessment including the necessary criteria, as laid out by the professor. In order to ensure that each assessment includes the relevant course work, each student would be responsible for providing a project proposal in advance. More than anything, the professor would be cognizant of the impact that his or her language has on his or her students and ensure that he or she uses language that respects multicultural diversity (including disability).

Lastly, in a fully universally designed university it is said that disability services offices and disability services providers will no longer be necessary, but seeing as I am only designing a universally designed class and not a universally designed institution, I will assume that disability services providers are not yet a thing of the past.  In that case, I would hope that there would be at least one liaison between the disability services office and the law school and that when the professor is unable or unaware of the appropriate way to make his or her class fully accessible, that he or she would be in contact with disability services office. And in the event that a student chooses not to speak to the professor about their learning and access needs, they would have sufficient information and encouragement to speak to the disability services office.


I think that this newly designed curriculum would allow for access that is more complete for all students. While I find this argument galling, I have heard law professors and law students support the atmosphere of fear that law schools cultivate because they feel that law school is supposed to be a self-selecting environment and the legal profession would lose its “edge” if law school became more accommodating or accessible. I working to reverse this image with my new classroom.

My UD Project 1 discussed depression and stress in higher education and I think that this newly vamped law class provides for increased access for students with depression because it dissipates the tension level, which is helpful for most learners, especially those with a lower tolerance for stress and anxiety.  As it says in Stress and the Contemporary Student, an article that I found for UD Project 1, “stress can impair many of the processes on which the acquisition, manipulation and consolidation of knowledge depend.”[7]  Decreasing the level of stress in the classroom, increases the information retention level.   This class format also increases access because it provides multiple ways for students to access the curriculum.  If a student is not able to make it to class for a multitude of reasons (depression, chronic pain, family needs, religious observances, etc…), they can view the class from their own laptop at any time. In UD Project 1, I also looked at an article about mental health and primary education that suggested using already existing faculty and infrastructure to facilitate mental healthcare in the classrooms.[8] I think that my proposed classroom does just that by reducing the intimidation factor and insisting that professors use respectful language.

Respectful language should be a given for all professors but this is all too often not the case. It is my belief that in order for any program or curriculum to be fully accessible and universally designed there needs to be a multicultural element and not just an eye towards disability related access.  This idea is encompassed in Multicultural/diverse perspective instruction, which is comprised of three different and important dimensions. The three dimensions are related to content integration, knowledge construction, and an equity pedagogy:

  1. Content integration is comprised of sensitive, accurate, and non-biased content representing a variety of cultures and groups should be used to illustrate key concepts, principles, generalizations, and theories.
  2. As students construct knowledge about the content, they must be helped to view concepts, issues, and problems from diverse cultural perspectives. The mainstream-centric perspective is only one of several perspectives from which concepts, issues, or problems are viewed.
  3. To ensure equity for all students, teachers must modify their teaching in ways that will facilitate the academic achievement of students from diverse racial, cultural, gender, and social-class groups.[9]

I see these ideals as directly coinciding with the ideals of UDL. “Universal Design should be perceived as a means for actively engaging all students in the learning process, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, ethnic origin, language, social class, sexual orientation, or disability.” [10] Just as UID has principles of implementation, there are also principles of implementation for the universal design of multiculturalism, they include:

  1. Build barrier-free, welcoming environments with attention paid to attributes that include usability, diverse content, access to artwork and graphic design, and geographic location relative to function.
  2. Create spaces and programs that foster a sense of community for all students, particularly students from underrepresented communities.
  3. Design accessible and appropriate physical environments that provide ease of use for people who use different modes of interacting or communicating and allow for confidential use based on the services, programs, or benefits being delivered.
  4. Ensure that non-electronic information environments are accessible and appropriate so that information is delivered in formats (e.g., Braille, captioning, different languages) understandable by and easily usable by diverse users without requiring unnecessary steps or “hoops” to jump through for completion.
  5. Design and maintain Internet and other electronic environments to ensure accessibility and appropriate confidentiality or privacy for those who use various adaptive equipment, hardware, (that may vary in age and capacity), and software and for those that require or need confidentiality or privacy.
  6. Create inclusive and respectful policies and programs that, from the beginning, take into consideration the diverse student and employee populations at the institution and provide natural and cognitive supports to ensure full utilization of programs by students and employees; and
  7. Hire and develop personnel who understand, respect, and value the institution’s diverse community of students and employees.[11]

These principles are truly universally designed because they provide access and encourage the involvement of all students, regardless of ability, preferred language, ethnic background, race, sexuality, gender, socioeconomic status, etc… It is not surprising that these principles line up with the platform of Syracuse University’s Beyond Compliance Coordinating Committee (BCCC), which are:

  1. Reshaping Syracuse University’s conception of disability to promote an understanding of disability as a form of diversity.
  2. University recognition and funding of the Disability Studies program.
  3. Creating model accommodations exemplifying the University’s commitment to equality of opportunity for students with disabilities.
  4. Hiring faculty and staff members with disabilities within departments across the University.[12]

While these tenets are a more narrowly tailored to disability, the last principle on both lists discusses the need for hiring faculty and staff that embody diversity and are dedicated to creating an environment of universal respect.



I think that it is very appropriate that this is my last project for graduate school and law school. Once I turn this project in I will be done with all of my academic requirements.  This project helped me to sum up my experience as a law student and a CFE student. It helped me to combine the knowledge and experience that I received from both.  It also allowed me to feel as if I’m leaving legal education in a better, more accessible place.  Even though I know that my doing this project does not mean that any of my ideas or suggestions will be implemented, it was cathartic to be able to address some of the aspects of law school that I think are the most off-putting and insular.  At times it has been very frustrating to be a law student and a disability rights advocate because the two have often seemed at odds with each other.  Even though we, as law students, are supposedly being groomed to become zealous advocates, our advocacy as law students has been met with resistance and annoyance.  This project was the perfect outlet for the past three years of frustration as well as a hopeful start to my career as a disability rights advocate in higher education.

[1] Coffey, H. (n.d.). Socratic method. Unpublished manuscript, Learn NC, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill , Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Retrieved from http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/4994.

[2] Steven I. Friedland, How We Teach: A Survey of Teaching Techniques in American Law Schools, 20 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 1 (1996).

[3] Paul, A. M. (2011, Dec. 14). Why asking questions might not be the best way to teach Time Magazine, Retrieved from http://ideas.time.com/2011/12/14/why-asking-questions-might-not-be-the-best-way-to-teach/.

[4] Osborne, J. J. (Director) (1971). The paper chase [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qx22TyCge7w&feature=related.

[5] Joseph A. Dickinson, Understanding the Socratic Method in Law School Teaching After the Carnegie Foundation’s Educating Lawyers, 31 W. New Eng. L. Rev. 97 (2009).

[6] Luketic, R. (Director) (2001). Legally blonde [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaQbC5bgh2s.

[7] Humphrey, R., McCarthy, P., Popham, F., Charles, Z., Garland, M., Gooch, S., Hornsby, K., & Houghton, C., Muldoon, C. (1998). Stress and the contemporary student. Higher Education Quarterly, 52(2), 221-242.

[8] Atkins, M. S., Hoagwood, K. E., Kutash, K., & Seidman, E. (2010). Toward the integration of education and mental health in schools. Administration and Policy in Mental Health, 37, 40-47.

[9] What is multicultural/diverse perspective instruction?. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.eduplace.com/rdg/res/literacy/multi5.html.

[10] Barajas, H. L., & Higbee, J. L. (2003). Where do we go from here? Universal Design as a model for multicultural education. In J. L. Higbee (Ed.), Curriculum transformation and disability: Implementing Universal Design in higher education (pp. 285-290). Retrieved August 28, 2006, from the University of Minnesota, Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy Web site: http://www.education.umn.edu/crdeul.

[11] Jeanne L. Higbee, Dana B. Lundell, Heidi L. Barajas, Roberta J. Cordano & Robert Copeland,Power Point Presentation for the 22nd Annual Pacific Rim Conference on Disabilities, Honolulu, HI, March 2006, Retrieved on May 5, 2012 from www.cehd.umn.edu/passit/docs/PacRim06.ppt.

[12] Beyond Compliance Coordinating Committee, http://bcccsyracuse.wordpress.com/about/ (last visited April 23, 2012).

Took Notes on April 17

Speaker: Jennifer Hackett, Candidate for a Master’s in CFE. Has a background in landscape architecture

American Society of Landscape Architects- Universal Design (www.asla.org)

Universal Design

–          Legislation

–          Landscape architecture

–          Architecture

–          Compliance

Combine to become beyond compliance

Legislation timeline- on slide

American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

–          Mission: To enhance both the global competitiveness of US business and the US quality of life by promoting and facilitating voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment systems, and safeguarding their integrity

–          http://www.ansi.org

Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS)

–          Sets standards for facility accessibility by physically handicapped persons for Federally funded facilities.  These standards are to be applied during the design, construction, and alteration of buildings and facilities to the extent required by the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 (ABA) as amended.

–          http://www.access-board.gov/ufas/ufas-html/ufas.htm

United States Access Board

–          The Access Board is an independent Federal Agency devoted to accessibility for people with disabilities. Created in 1973 to ensure access to Federally funded facilities, the Board is now a leading source for information on accessible design.

–          http://www.access-board.gov/gs.htm

Universal Design is an approach to creating environment and products that recognizes the diversity of users (University of Oregon)

–          Universal design is a value, not a set of dimensional requirements

University of Oregon

–          It challenges Designers to think beyond code compliance and special features for specific users towards more inclusive solutions that incorporate the needs of divers users without segregation or separate accommodation.

–          Universal design is not a euphemism for accessibility

–          It is not a strategy for making compliance with the ADA more palatable

–          It is an idea that reestablishes a critical and fundamental goal of good design: meeting the needs of as many users as possible.

American Institute of Architects (AIA) Accessible Environment Policy Statement, 2008

–          The AIA supports governmental policies, programs, and incentives that ensure a built environment that meets the reasonable needs of people with disabilities through accessibility rules and guidelines that are clear, certain, and consistent.


–          Physically disabled individuals should be afforded the means to participate in society to the extent that they are able, through the elimination of physical barriers in a manner that balances the interests of the physically disabled, the public good, and cost effectiveness.

American Society of Landscape Architects Universal Design Policy Statement (1986, R1994, R2000, R2001)

–          The American Society of Landscape Architecture believes the natural and built environment should be accessible and usable by all people.  ALSA also believes that it is the inherent right of all people to develop their economic, social, and personal potential through equal or appropriate access to the natural and built environment.  The Society believes that the principles of universal design are essential in the design process for creating environments that can be used and enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities, assuring that they retain a similar quality of life.

–          Universal design differs from accessible design in that it is inclusive rather than exclusive and provides for designs that accommodate the full range of physical limitations as well as the able bodied; integrates the accommodations of the disabled within the basis design concept of the facility; and avoids special places based on abilities.

–          The response to accessibility requirements is often merely standard driven, resulting in segregated facilities not meeting the level of aesthetics of other site features and lacking creativity and flexibility, thereby paradoxically limiting opportunities for both the disabled and able bodied.  Through the application of the principles of universal design, barriers can be removed from existing facilities and new barrier free facilities can be constructed so that accessible features are an expected part of every place, and become an interwoven part of every facility, enhancing opportunities for everyone.

Discussing pros & cons of each statement:

–          Key words

–          Interpretation of universal design

–          Understanding of compliance and beyond compliance

–          Ableist assumptions

–          Inclusiveness

–          Key words

–          Interpretation of universal design

–          Understanding of compliance and beyond compliance

–          Ableist assumptions

–          Inclusiveness


Universal Design

–          Disability, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology (DO-IT) at University of Washington

Class Activity Universal Design (?) on Campus

–          Read or listen to the following commitments to accessibility

–          Consider the definition of Universal Design

–          Highlight key words and phrases

–          Discuss whether the colleges do or do not adhere to the principles of UD

–          Rank the colleges best to worst for their understanding of the difference between UD and compliance

University of Pennsylvania

–          Commitment to Accessibility: The university is committed to providing equal access to all buildings for those with disabilities, and to doing so in a dignified manner. All new construction must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines.  Renovations of historic buildings should seek to improve access for disabled persons in a manner compatible with their historic integrity.

–          http://www.facilities.upenn/edu/uop/BldgDesignGuidelines.pdf

University of Massachusetts

–          The university is committed to providing equal access to all buildings for those with disabilities, and to do so in a dignified manner.  All new construction must comply with MA Architectural Access Board Regulations (521 CMR) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines.  Renovations of historic buildings should seek to improve access for the disabled in a manner compatible with their historic integrity.

–           http://www.umass.edu/fp/uplaods/textWidget/wysiwyg/documents/Design_Guidelines10-04.pdf

University of North Carolina at Pembroke

–          University policy is to go beyond the minimum requirements of building code and accessibility standard to provide more than minimally adequate accommodations for everyone.  Where federal and state or local standards conflict, the university’s preference shall be used.  The desired goal is to make all buildings, programs, services, and activities accessible to the greatest extent possible, for the greatest number of people… design elements stigmatize users when they segregate people who need access

–          http://www.unep.edu/fpc/guidelines/guidelines21.pdf

University of Houston

–          Build an environment that is inclusive, positive human and physically accessible where all participants (student, staff, faculty and visitors) feel welcome

–          http://www.uh.edu/plantops/emanual/forms/00_campus_design_guidelines.pdf

Syracuse University (Absent Presences?)

–          Whitman School of Management- the 1st major building project completed under this private University’s new campus plan.

–          http://www.designshare.com/index.php/projects/whitman-school-of-management-syr-fxfowle/intro

Syracuse University College of Law- Dineen Hall

–          Placement within the larger campus environment

–          Accessibility to main campus

–          Universally Designed of In Compliance

Accessible Campus…?

–          http:///maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&tab=wl




We read a passage from The Invisible Culture: Communication in Classroom and Community on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation by Susan Urmston Philips

–          As a follow up to our discussion on “pause time”

  • When a question is asked and the professor or the person asking the question gives some time for the question to sink in and for responses to be formulated
  • Amount of time is negotiable (read your audience- type of audience determines the length of pause)
  • Pause time is relevant to a broad array of learners- international, folks from different family backgrounds, indigenous learners with and without disability identities, styles, preferences, etc…

How do these readings help me think critically about how I work and what I do?

We discussed the Imrie article:

How important is plain language when dealing with architecture and legislation?

How often do architects take into consideration the emotional output of a building?


We will discuss the content on Text, Print and Literacy

Reflection is a little bit different than previous reflections: please see blackboard

Diane is giving us until May 1st to have everything submitted (there will be no late penalties)

–          There should be 8 reflections

–          There should be 3 tech logs

–          One or two sets of notes (depending on you)


Project 3: All people must be able to access your final project. You will post these links on your blog (or provide access in some other way) What have you learned? How can you apply this to some other form of instruction? No additional detailed rubric. A brief explanation of the original lesson.


Come to Diane’s Talk: The Mad Pride Movement and Mental Health

2-3 pm April 30th

2509/2510 Setnor Academic Building 766 Irving Ave



Week 11 Technology Lab: Online Videos

I think that online videos are both under used and over used at the same time.  Youtube has become a medium where anyone can post anything. I just logged onto Youtube right now and the top three videos right now are a 2013 Dodge Dart Advertizement, a video of President Obama and an ad or a video about a computer/video game. This variation allows for any user to find anything they need on video, this is not always positive and not always negative.

From a teaching perspective, I think that videos are a under used medium and that using video can be a very universally designed mode of teaching (so long as the videos are captioned, have auditory explanations, and all other access tools). This video, made by DO-IT, one of the most accessible videos I have seen.

Week 15 Reflection: UD and Other Learning Theories or Approaches

I chose to research and discuss Multicultural Instruction/Diverse Perspectives Instruction because I have become increasingly interested in the “next step” for Universal Design and I think that expanding the focus of universal design beyond equal access for individuals with disabilities and onto other marginalized groups might be this “next step.”  Universally designed curriculum is defined as “an approach to designing course instruction, materials, and content to benefit people of all learning styles without adaptation or retrofitting.” (RIT) While this concept was originally created to benefit individuals with disabilities, the use of these principles have been recently applied to multicultural education as well. (RIT) “Rather than an extension of a model for accommodation, Universal Design should be perceived as a means for actively engaging all students in the learning process, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, ethnic origin, language, social class, sexual orientation, or disability.” (Where Do We Go From Here)

Multicultural/diverse perspective instruction is comprised of three different and important dimensions. The three dimensions are related to content integration, knowledge construction, and an equity pedagogy:

  1. Content integration is comprised of sensitive, accurate, and non-biased content representing a variety of cultures and groups should be used to illustrate key concepts, principles, generalizations, and theories.
  2. As students construct knowledge about the content, they must be helped to view concepts, issues, and problems from diverse cultural perspectives. The mainstream-centric perspective is only one of several perspectives from which concepts, issues, or problems are viewed.
  3. To ensure equity for all students, teachers must modify their teaching in ways that will facilitate the academic achievement of students from diverse racial, cultural, gender, and social-class groups. (Education Place)

I see these ideals as directly coinciding with the ideals of UDL.

Week 12 Reflection- Texts, Print, and Literacy

My first reaction to the title of the article, Eliminating Ableism in Education, was that in my opinion, in order to eliminate ableism in education we must address ableism in the greater society.  This approach can be controversial however, because some feel that in order to educate the rest of society we must start in the schools and hope that the education disperses throughout society.  It becomes a “what comes first, the chicken or the egg” type of discussion. Regardless of the answer, Penny’s view that “while disability is not a tragedy, society’s response to disability can have tragic consequences for those who have disabilities,” is enlightened and well-articulated. (Hehir, 2) This idea permeates our society and our schools and makes living as a person with a disability more difficult (contrary to the idea that the disability is what makes life more difficult).

On the other hand, it is not hard to contend that most children are very aware of the comings and goings of their peers; students use the actions and inactions of their fellow students to gage their level of success and social acceptance. This is not to say that our societal understandings of success and achievement do not fuel the way students within our society interact.  Given the fact that “approximately half of all students 6-21 years old with documented disabilities spend 80% or more of the school day in the general education classroom, educators have the responsibility to educate all students on acceptance, disability and difference early in the schooling process so as to avoid othering and comparing as much as possible from the beginning. (Michael and Trezek, 312)


Week 11 Reflection: Imagery and Video

I think that Rosemary Garland-Thompson’s discussion of staring in The Politics of Staring: Visual Rhetorics of Disability in Popular Photography, is a clearly taboo but very important topic.  I appreciate her approach that acknowledges that staring is a given in our society and that it is not as negative or “rude” as we may have been taught to believe. Celebrity culture and reality tv allows us to stare in a “socially acceptable” way. The charity organizations such as Jerry Lewis, etc… provided a showcase of people with disabilities.  This makes me wonder, is there any positive slant on making a spectacle of a (marginalized) person or a (marginalized) group?

On a different note, I also enjoyed the discussion of literacy and technology in Teaching and Reading the Millennial Generation Through Media Literacy.  At the very beginning of the article the authors write that “new technology challenges our understanding of what it means to be literate.” Reading this sentence in the context of the age old concern concern about the literacy and academic achievement of that specific era’s adolescents, makes me wonder if this concern is only relevant if we view literacy and academic achievement as a static destination. It has been  just as easily argued that older generations are becoming less literate in terms of their knowledge of technology. This is particularly true when we look at the people who are creating and running large web-based corporations, such as Facebook (27 years old).

Week 10 Technology Lab: Mindmapping

I was initially unfamiliar with the term mindmapping but after a little research I found that it was a familiar concept.  I have seen and been advised to mindmap in many different classes throughout my education. In this case, I feel that adding a technology component to this relatively established exercise might be unnecessary and a bit complicated. That being said, I have seen the success of similar technology at a higher education level. This technology was called Kurzweil 3000, which not only provides text-to-speach software, but also provides a graphic organizer program that is essentially mindmapping.

Reflection 10: Lesson Planning

This may be obtuse but I find it strange that participatory action research (PAR) that is discussed in Using a Participatory Action Research Approach to Create a Universally Designed Inclusive High School Science Course: A Case Study, is a groundbreaking research method. It seems to me that in order to produce effective and useful research one must design their research “based on the needs of the stakeholders” and “conduct [it] in a collaborative manner.” (294) This indeed seems like the best (maybe only?) way to reach clear and helpful conclusions that can be useful for practitioners.  How else would one successfully test the success rate of the “development, implementation, and evaluation of a process for redesigning” a curriculum? (294)  How can one measure the success of a study if the study participants are from a different classification as the intended recipients of the research? On another note, I agree that when it comes to UD curriculum, there is a lot of attention paid to different formats that addresses the needs of individuals with sensory-related disabilities, but there are indeed fewer strategies in circulation for students with other needs. (293)

Another article that struck a cord with me was the Working with Faculty Toward Universally Designed Instruction: The Process of Dynamic Course Design by Elizabeth G. Harrison. In describing universal design and the role faculty (should) play in the UD movement, Harrison touches on the oft discussed dichotomy of disability services and disability studies.  Harrison, as well as many, if not most, disability studies scholars believes that disability services offices are manifestations of the medical model of disability. I do not believe that this has to be the case. The Disability Rights movement is a civil rights movement just like the Woman’s Rights movement and the 1960’s and 1970’s Civil Rights movement that at least began as a fight for the rights of African Americans.  Most campuses now have an Office of Multicultural Affairs which, within my understanding, is designed as a safe space for students of marginalized racial and ethnic backgrounds and an events hub for multicultural events.  At SU, the new Disability Cultural Center is striving to become such a base for students with disabilities, but as we are the first school in the country to have such an office, many disability services offices not only provide services to students, but also act as a safe space and an activity center for any disability related events on campus.  Additionally, I, as well as many disability studies scholars and disability educators, believe that even in a perfectly universally designed classroom accommodations will still be necessary for some students.  I believe that accessibility for all and accommodations are not and should not be mutually exclusive.

UD Project 1: Learning about learners in higher education with depression

I chose to concentrate on students in higher education with depression.  While there is a large amount of material on mental health on college campuses, especially on the recent rise in occurrence, there is much less peer-reviewed information on teaching students with depression, or students with depression learning.  The majority of information is instead shared through social media, Public Service Announcements, or through blogs.  Many of these mediums are targeted at the “issue” as a whole and how it impacts students and their extracurricular life, especially how depression manifests as a drinking problem and/or a drug problem. Two such examples are the youtube video, Depression on Campus, which was made by a student with depression. The student uses this video to discuss how he used alcohol and drugs to self-medicate when he was depressed.  He then shares that his solution was to seek help through a therapist and talk about his depression.  The second example is a another youtube video made by the University of Michigan’s Educational Theater Company: Invisible: Student Voices, Mental Health, and the College Experience (A Theatrical Presentation).

I had difficulty finding peer-reviewed medical journal articles about students in higher education with depression so I decided to use two articles from medical journals that I found interesting and relevant. The first article I chose was an article advocating for the integration of education and mental health care in schools called, Toward the Integration of Education and Mental Health in Schools.  This article is related to my interest in mental health in higher education, even though it is addressing a younger demographic, because it discusses how students who are labeled as having emotional or behavioral disorders drop out of school at a much higher rate and their chances of reaching higher education are therefore much slimmer. From a transition perspective, if we were to heed the advice of this article and find a better way to facilitate mental healthcare in the classroom, students who are currently slipping through the cracks and dropping out of school, may have a better chance of making it to the type of post-secondary education of their choice. This article suggests that schools “need to develop strategies to optimize, enhance, and augment the goals of education, rather than superimpose a new set of programs or professionals on these (often) beleaguered schools.” (42).  In order to do this, it would behoove administrators and educators to use “mental health staff as ‘educational enhancers’ to assist teachers in providing effective instruction and classroom management.” (42) This struck me as a universally designed concept, because it integrates mental health care into the classroom and avoids pulling students out of regularly scheduled curriculum. More than anything, I chose this article because I found it remarkable that four non-educators and non-disability studies scholars (two professors of psychology, one doctor, and one social worker) would understand the need for universally designed classrooms and proactive, rather than reactionary, mental health care for children.

The second medical journal article that I found applicable was an article discussing the treatment of depression for Japanese undergraduate students, called Depression Treatment Preferences Among Japanese Undergraduates: Using Cojoint Analysis. The first element that struck me about this article was the concentration on “treatment” of depression rather than suggestions and strategies about how to learn as a person with depression. This may, however, be a knee-jerk reaction that I have as a disability studies student. The factors tested were gender, age, department, lifetime use of healthcare services, perceived etiology (ideas surrounding the concept) of depression, stigma towards depression, transportation time, opening hours, and treatment options. The outcome of the study was that the amount of time it took to get to treatment (transportation time) and the type of treatment options made the most impact on an undergraduate’s treatment.  It was also found that a “combination of psychotherapy and medication is the most preferred treatment option despite having the highest treatment costs.” (200-201) I did not find this article incredibly helpful for my project, but this could be because this study was done in Japan, with the goal of improving mental health services for Japanese undergraduates.  I think a parallel study in the United States could be helpful, because it is evident from my research that many American college students do not seek out mental health care because of the substantial stigma attached and because of their lack of information about mental illness and the availability of mental health care.

I also looked at two social science journal articles, one that discusses how stress affects contemporary British university students, called Stress and the Contemporary Student.  The other article suggests general practices for educators on how to teach and support students with depression, called Responding to a Student’s Depression.  The first article is noteworthy because it discusses the negatives AND positives of stress.   One of the negatives remarked upon was that “stress can impair many of the processes on which the acquisition, manipulation and consolidation of knowledge depend.” One of the positives of stress is “that the individual may feel more excited than agitated and perceive the situation positively as a form of challenge,” (222) This is particularly significant because as we have seen in the previous articles, stress, depression, and mental illness are generally seen as patently negative. This patently negative view of depression is shown in the second article, where the authors give a list of characteristics of depression in children and in adolescents and how those characteristics manifest in school.  The goal of this list is to show educators the “red flags” of depression and then provides strategies to help students with depression.  These strategies are helpful, but what stands out to me is how applicable and helpful many of these strategies could be to all students.  This brings us back to the first article I mentioned, about how integration of mental health care and education can be universally applicable.


Atkins, M. S., Hoagwood, K. E., Kutash, K., & Seidman, E. (2010). Toward the integration of education and mental health in schools. Administration and Policy in Mental Health, 37, 40-47.

Crundwell, R. M., & Killu, K. (2010). Responding to a student’s depression. Interventions that Work, 68(2), 46-51. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/oct10/vol68/num02/Responding-to-a-Student

Humphrey, R., McCarthy, P., Popham, F., Charles, Z., Garland, M., Gooch, S., Hornsby, K., & Houghton, C., Muldoon, C. (1998). Stress and the contemporary student. Higher Education Quarterly, 52(2), 221-242.

Invisible: Student voices, mental health, and the college experience. (2010). Unpublished raw data, Educational Theater Company, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. , Available from Youtube. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UPk7I7zs5M

Okumura, Y., & Sakamoto, S. (2011). Depression treatment preferences among japanese undergraduates: Using cojoint analysis. Interational Journal of Social Psychology, 58(2), 195-203. Retrieved from http://isp.sagepub.com/content/58/2/195.full.pdf html

Thatmentalhealthguy. (Performer) (2012). Depression on campus [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQzDyzexUE8

UC Berkley Disabled Students’ Program. (Sept., 2011). Teaching students with disabilities. Retrieved from http://dsp.berkeley.edu/TeachStudentsWithDisab.html

Week 7 Reflection: Technology

I was struck by a statement/observation that Cathy Davidson made in the introduction of her book Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn.  While reflecting on a “attention-blind” exercise she once did, she says, “[w]here [many neuroscientists] perceive the shortcomings of the individual, I sense opportunity for collaboration.  If we see selectively but we don’t all select the same things to see, that also means that we don’t all miss the same things.” (Davidson, 2)  This observation cements the idea of universal design for me in a way that I have not seen before. In elementary school and high school, teachers often told my parents that I had a different (sometimes “round-about”) way of arriving at the correct answer. Often when this comment was relayed to me I felt less intelligent and always different. My parents would explain to me that I was just a “different type of learner,” and yet, in the setting of my school (and many other schools, I’m fairly certain) being a “different type of learner” was not a legitimized location.  Encouraging teachers and schools to diversify their concepts of the “right thought process” and even “the right answer,” will allow every student to engage in their learning and feel productive and successful.  Admittedly, this is not always as straightforward or as easy as it sounds.

I see connections between Davidson’s concept of using different individuals perspectives as collaboration and Chisholm and May’s concept of the continuum of capabilities that they discuss in Chapter 2 of their book. They discuss how a person’s use of different types of technologies impact their access to information. (Chisholm and May, 11) Because computer technology has become so prevalent in our everyday lives, a person’s access and knowledge of technology could directly correlate to their potential access to information and the outside world. It has been said that certain types of technology have eliminated some disabilities. This is a controversial statement and I am not sure what my personal feelings are about this, but it is true that before the widespread use of technology, some individuals were considered “mute” or unable to communicate and now with the use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) this is no longer the case.  The same comment has been made about the deaf population- before being taught sign language, many deaf individuals could not communicate “effectively.”