Review of Working Together: Faculty And Students With Disabilities, A Presentation Packet Created by DO-IT (Disabilities,Opportunities, Internetworking, Technology)
The DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, Technology) Program is based at the University of Washington, but reaches students in high schools and other colleges as well. With programs and mentoring, students are encouraged to set academic goals and see examples of people doing work that would not have been possible for them before computers and other technical advances. By showing possibilities, it broadens horizons.
On another front, the program addresses the needs of people who will be working with students with disabilities. One outcome of this work is a set of presentation packets intended for use in a variety of academic settings. These packets, developed by Sheryl Burgstahler, PhD, Director of the DO-IT program, are intended to enable people who have varied levels of experience to conduct awareness presentations. Presentation packets include "Universal Access: Electronic Resources in Libraries," and "Working Together: Faculty an d Students with Disabilities." The latter is the subject of this review.
WORKING TOGETHER: FACULTY AND STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
This packet is elegantly presented in a loose-leaf binder, and includes scripts and supporting materials for either a short (20-minute) or a longer, more detailed presentation. These materials include a glossary of terms, templates for transparencies, handouts to duplicate, and one or more videotapes.
The Working Together short presentation is one that can be done by people with little or no experience of working with students with disabilities. Necessary local information would include contact information for the offices and personnel who provide services to students with disabilities. A drawback to a presenter without background would be the inability to deal with a question-and-answer session. However, the generation of questions makes evident the need for a follow-up session, and that's the real advantage of this f ormat. Faculty or students could make this presentation to a departmental meeting or other small group as an introduction to the is sue, and the group can then design a request for a more extensive follow-up that will focus on the needs they have been able to identify. The presentation would certainly arouse faculty interest and involvement, and once preliminary work has been done, the person or persons who plan and provide access can do the follow-up.
The comprehensive script must be presented by someone with experience in providing academic accommodations for students with disabilities. It deals with concrete issues, and will generate substantial questions, and not just about the technology. The most difficult issue related to accommodating students with disabilities is the balance between "academic freedom" and accommodation. It's a hot- button topic with many, and there should be a resource person available to work with faculty who are concerned with this issue.
The presentations provide information on the legal implications for departments and individuals, provide clear information on a wide variety of disabilities and the technologies and strategies used by students and teachers to accommodate those disabilities, and offer a selective list of resource agencies and electronic forums that focus on disabilities and academic issues.
"Working Together: Faculty and Students with Disabilities" is a good, slick package that takes a lot of the background work out of preparing presentations. The program can be used to advantage in any area within an academic institution that needs to begin, or to enhance, its program for individuals with disabilities.
For more information on DO-IT and its programs, contact: v Sheryl Burgstahler
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-4842
Phone: 206/685-DOIT (Voice, TTY)