For this week, I decided that I wanted to explore the idea of “Multiple Intelligences,” since it is frequently discussed in Residence Life settings and Resident Advisor trainings. With information taken from the following webpage (http://www.tecweb.org/styles/gardner.html), the theory of Multiple Intelligences comes from Howard Gardner. “This theory has emerged fro recent cognitive research and ‘documents the extent to which students possess different kinds of minds and therefore learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways,’ according to Gardner (1991).” He described seven distinct learning styles: Visual-Spatial, Bodily-kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Linguistic, and Logical-Mathematical. The link I included goes on to discuss the things that need to be considered when teaching learners. While it doesn’t specifically mention Universal Design, it does suggest UD ideas, such as a larger variety of learners will learn better through learning in multiple different ways. If you would like more information regarding Howard Gardner, this link includes more about his early life and the development of the multiple intelligences, including the potential for three additional intelligences: naturalist, spiritualist/existential, and moral intelligences. Here are a brief explanation of each of the original seven intelligences, as well as the additional three:

Visual-Spatial: potential to recognize and use the patterns of wide space and more confined areas

Bodily-kinesthetic: potential of using one’s whole body or parts of the body to solve problems; the ability to use mental abilities to coordinate bodily movements

Musical: skill in the performance, composition, and appreciation of musical patterns; encompasses the capacity to recognize and compose musical pitches, tones, and rhythms

Interpersonal: capacity to understand the intetions, motivations and desires of other people; allows people to work effectively with others

Intrapersonal: capacity to understand oneself, to appreciate one’s feelings, fears and motivations; involves having an effective working model of ourselves and to be able to use such information to regulate our lives

Linguistic: sensitivity to spoken and written language, the ability to learn languages, and the capacity to use language to accomplish certain goals; includes the ability to effectively use language to express oneself rhetorically or poetically; use language as a mean to remember information

Logical-Mathematical: capacity to analyze problems logically, carry out mathematical operations, and investigate issues scientifically; ability to detect patterns, reason deductively and think logically

Naturalist: enables humans to recognize, categorize and draw upon certain features of the environment

Spiritualist/existential: explores the nature of existence in its multifarious guises; a concern with ‘ultimate issues’

Moral: a concern with those roles, behaviors and attitudes that govern the sanctity of life, particularly the sanctity of human life and other living creatures and the world they inhabit

 

Lastly, I am including a link to one of the many various tests available for people to find out what their predominant intelligences are: http://www.literacyworks.org/mi/assessment/findyourstrengths.html

I think this has a direct link with UDL, as it is one way for educators to look at the various types of learners they need to reach and their strengths. Just as someone with a mobility issue might be limited in how they learn through kinesthetic exercises, so might someone who doesn’t have a strong kinesthetic intelligence. This is one thing that many residence hall directors are already teaching their RAs about in terms of how they work together, but they could take it a step further by having their RAs think about applying this in how they do their programming. I will have to look at how I can include this in my presentation about UD in residence halls.

I began reading for this week with “Universal Design and Multiple Literacies: Creating Access and Ownership for Students With Disabilities.” I was immediately struck by a couple of thoughts as I was reading: First, the definition of “literate thought” was somewhat perplexing for me in terms of thinking about Universal Design. Part of that definition was rational thinking. My concern with this is that there are many disabilities that would be perceived to be based off of “irrational thought” or perceived as an alternate experience of the world. For instance, someone who is diagnosed as being schizophrenic might be perceived as having “irrational thoughts.” For me, this raises the question then of the possibility of their being a place for people who think outside of the traditional definition of rational within education. I am really not sure of the answer to this, but I think it is important to think about whether this interpretation of literate thought, as well as it’s value in education, is normative, in and of itself. Do we need to rearrange how we think about what it is important for students to learn and practice, in terms of learning, in order to be termed “educated”? Is there room for non-normative thinking within an educational environment? One might say that the inclusion of “creatively” in the definition allows for the inclusion of non-normative thinking, but I would argue that this being included in the definition simply means creatively within the sphere of the (perceived as) rational. Also, as just an interesting thought: isn’t it ironic for this piece to be script literacy and yet critical of script literacy? It seems that this would neglect the idea that the people (as I understand it, the educators) reading this article might be some of the people who don’t do well with script literacy.

The second reading I am writing on for this week is “Eliminating Ableism in Education,” by Thomas Hehir. This article immediately reminded me of a situation that happened within my own family within the past year. Approximately 10 months ago, my cousin and his wife gave birth to their first daughter, 4 months early. She was born at only a couple of ounces in weight and was small enough to fit in the palm of her parents hand (although they were not allowed to hold her because her skin was to delicate). Baby Parker lived for over a month before passing away. The thing that my family members kept saying during this time was that this was a blessing for little Parker, since, if she had survived, she would have grown up with many disabilities. I was struck by this: the idea that having multiple disabilities would be worse than dying? This still hasn’t sat right in my stomach, but I never felt that this would be something I could explain to my family. I believe this was part of the stages of grief, that this was their bargaining and rationalizing of what had happened,  in order to feel better. However, it reinforced the idea that having a child with a disability meant that their life was somehow over when they were still alive. I was reminded of this by the story at the beginning of the article. I think the difficulties with ableism in education stem from the ableist discourses that is pervasive in general society. We will have a difficult time remediating the ableism within educational setting without reprogramming (so to the speak) the general populations ideas regarding people with disabilities. The author discusses this throughout the article, and I think this is vital point when considering ableism in education (maybe more especially in higher education).

Another thing this article made me think of is how ASL is regarded in a collegiate environment. For instance, I was very troubled recently when one of my Resident Advisors told me that while she had taken multiple ASL classes, none of them would fulfill her language requirement that was part of her core curriculum. In addition, ASL classes were solely listed under disability studies. While I agree that ASL classes should be listed under disability studies, as it is a significant part of deaf culture, I believe this classes should be cross listed as a language and should meet the language requirement set forth by the University. By not allowing ASL to fulfill the language requirement, it devalues it by (in a way) not considering it to be a language. Just as the article says that society prefers children to speak than sign, it prefers for their second language to be French, Spanish, etc than ASL.

This week was of particular interest to me since I would potentially like to work for housing/campus planning in the future. I started with “Applications of Universal Design to Higher Education Facilities,” by Goldstein. While I at first very excited by reading this excerpt, I quickly became a little disgruntled. As frequently happens, life outside of the classroom and the building it is in were neglected. I was really hoping to read about the Residence Hall environment and what to do to make it accessible. While I have been coming up with ideas regarding this on my own, I am still waiting to see the place that students spend the most time completely neglected (Mind you, some students with disabilities are prevented from living in University housing altogether because of the lack of accessibility of living spaces on-campus). I think that the hall presents many additional things that need to be considered for accessibility. For instance, in relation to the adjustable height furniture discussed in the classroom, beds in the halls should have adjustable heights and staff during opening to assist students in changing the height. Another thing would be to have an adjustable desks and less built-in furniture, to allow flexibility in room layout. I could continue with more ideas I had, but I would exhaust myself (and probably those reading this as well).

The second reading I did was “Oppression, Disability and Access in the Built Environment,” by Rob Imrie. I found his argument to be interesting, but I didn’t exactly feel that I was in agreement. From the beginning, Imrie puts the “blame” on the architect for building buildings to serve one purpose. I found this argument to be leaky for a couple of reason. First, the company/person who hires the architect tells the architect the purpose of the building. They decide how it is going to be used, and then the architect builds to their specifications for use. While I think it would be great for the architect to recommend ideas for usability, it is ultimately decisions left to the person paying for the space to be built who have the decision. I relate a recent experience I had regarding such a decision. I was in a meeting where there was discussion over how new showers were to be built in a residence hall. The question arose as to whether there should be adjustable shower heads (that adjust to different heights) in the new showers. The architects for the project were happy to have adjustable shower heads, as long as that was what the client was looking for. Ultimately, the client decided they wanted to go with a stationary shower head, except for in the “accessible” bathrooms. Because the purchaser of the renovation didn’t feel the shower head height in the other bathrooms was important, the architect went with their preference. (This is not an attempt to say the architect is blameless in these types of situations, as they could advocate harder for using them, but it is ultimately up to the purchaser.)

So, if we want to make sure that accessibility is at the forefront of buildings, we should look to change policies that allow for “separate but equal model” as opposed to a more Universally Designed model. When I say this, I, of course, reference the separate facilities for blacks during the beginning of the twentieth century, but isn’t that what we have now for people with disabilities? There has to be an accessible bathroom in newly built buildings, but it doesn’t mean that it is with the other bathrooms or in a place that is easily accessible. There has to be an accessible entrance, but it doesn’t mean that it can’t be in the back of the building when there is an inaccessible entrance prominently in the front. These are separate facilities that both provide access to the building, but do result in treating some as being “out of the norm”… separate, but “equal.” So, if we looked to reform policies about new buildings, lets make it so that accessibility is required for all spaces, not just some of the facilities. If they are building bathrooms, build all of the stalls to be wheelchair accessible (I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t like the extra space.). Rather than blaming people along the design process for not being inclusive, let’s create policies that require it.

I started this week’s reading with “The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Slides Are Not All Evil” by Jean-Luc Doumont. He brings up a good point that can generally be applied to teaching as well as Universal Design: there is no one right way, and there is no one way that will produce a good lesson if you don’t have a good teacher. As he argued against the booklet produced by Edward Tufte, Doumont emphasized that all powerpoint presentations can’t be judged off of just one set of slides (as he described Tufte had done with the Boeing slide). In addition, he discussed that judging slides as the presentation itself is unfair as much of the presentation comes from the presenter themselves. This relates to the idea in CAST’s UDL model about providing information in multiple ways. If someone judged Wendy’s class based off of the powerpoint that she prepares for class and hands out, I think they would certainly obtain information, but they likely wouldn’t get the same messages that we are able to take home from class. Some of this is based off of class discussion, some because of how she “re-describes” the content included in her powerpoint, and other parts because of the activities included within the class. With this in mind, and thinking towards my own presentation (first, I will be taking a lot of this article into consideration, since I am planning on using a powerpoint), I am going to attempt to video-tape my presentation to put on youtube later. I am a little nervous about this since it will be the first professional presentation I have done, and only the second one concerning UD. However, I think it is important that if attendees of my session want to return to this information later, it will be important for them not to just have the slides to relate back to.

 

The second reading, “Enacting Literacy: Local Understanding, Significant Disability, and a New Frame for Educational Opportunity,” by Christopher Kliewer and Douglas Biklen, I found to be  more difficult for me to follow. One part that I found to be a little troubling was that they kept talking about the “disability profession” and I wondered what that was. They seemed to be describing people who functioned within the medical model and I found the use of this term (which I can’t remember having heard in this way prior) to be reinforcing a negative connotation to the term “disability.” For instance, the doctor who so directly told Nicholas’s mother that he was going to be “severely retarded” was someone from the disability profession. In my opinion, it is better to discuss members of the medical community as that and not necessarily disability professionals just because he diagnoses children with disabilities. He seemed to me to know nothing regarding disability in a positive sense, and therefore I would not regard him a disability professional. That was something I was thinking about and am interested if anyone else picked up on it.

While doing the reading, “Teaching and Reading the Millennial Generation Through Media Literacy,” I was pleasantly suprised to find that I am already doing some things that they discussed. In the article, they discussed how Millennials are digital natives and that this sometimes makes it so that they feel more comfortable and more creative expressing themselves in a digital environment. In thinking about my own work, I found that I am already utilizing this in some ways. Just as Millenials repost things they like on Facebook and other social media outlets, I have asked the two RAs that I supervised this semester to send me the link to something along with their weekly report. It can be anything, from a video, to an article (news or otherwise), to a song clip or a website. Over the course of the semester, they have sent me many funny videos, some political articles, and lots of music. This has proven to be a great way for my RAs and I to connect during our one-to-ones (weekly meetings between supervisee and supervisor) and for me to know them better. In this way, I have been able to tap into what comes naturally to them: posting and sharing. This is just one example of how I believe I am incorporating this into my work.

As far as how this could apply to Universal Design or my presentation I am creating, I think it is inclusive to those who may have a hard time sharing information about themselves for one reason or another. The more formats that I give the RAs to teach me about themselves, how they are doing, and what they are interested in, the more likely I am to be able to learn about them, and then be able to draw on that knowledge. If we only expect RAs to open up during one-to-one meetings, face-to-face, contact, then we won’t necessarily learn as much about those who aren’t as comfortable in that setting. We may assume they don’t want to share, when really we just haven’t given them enough mediums to help them to be comfortable doing so. I think that utilizing the “Fun clip/article/video/webpage” helps with this, along with asking them to provide me with information in multiple ways (such as through a blogged weekly report and their actual one-to-one meeting). I think that urging my fellow senior staff to open up their ideas about how they gain information from the RAs is going to provide more options to the RAs and more information to the senior staff.

When reading “The Politics of Staring: Visual Rhetorics of Disability in Popular Photography,” I was almost immediately reminded of two youtube videos I recently watched (look at me, reposting like a Millenial!): Shit ignorant people say to autistics and Shit people say to people with disabilities. In both of these videos, we can see how the four visual rhetorics are also applied to communication rhetorics. For instance, the convergence of the wonderous and the sentimental would be people saying, “what an inspiration you are!” I think that presenting these two pieces together could be helpful in teaching senior staff and paraprofessional staff (RAs, main desk assistants) in how images of disability are taught to them, and how these images inform the way we sometimes talk to people with disabilities. I think this may be too large for me to try to incorporate into my presentation (I can probably mention it as something for them to explore with their staffs), I think that discussing the two in conjunction with each other would be a great presentation, specifically for RAs, who may have never thought about how they talk to people with disabilities.

So, I am very familiar with mind mapping from primary school, but have rarely done it on anything other than a piece of paper. I believe that I initially did mind mapping on a computer with a 1990s version of Microsoft Word, but I remember very little of what I used it for.

In thinking about how I could apply this to in-hall use, I think that doing mind mapping would be especially good for things like brainstorming for programming ideas.  It would be helpful when the group is doing brainstorming, because then you could send out to the RAs what they came up with via email or record their mind-map in real-time, if you had the benefit of a projector or large TV to display it on. It also could be a way that RAs could choose to do their weekly reports in a way that is alternative to the usual form.

Since the focus of technology in my presentation is surrounding free resources, I looked at https://bubbl.us/. This is a free web-based mind-mapping software, where you just need to have flash on your computer. Overall, I thought the program was very easy to use and manipulate. However, I wasn’t able to find any information about its accessibility to people with various disabilities, particularly people who are blind or who use a screen reader. While I didn’t explore Mind Meister much, it also appears to be a free mind mapping tool, but had the benefit of being able to be applied to google docs through a google gadget: http://code.google.com/p/mindmeistergadget/. While exploring the accessibility for Mind Meister, I found the following link to a sight which explores the accessibility of various online tools. Check out the results here: http://www.web2access.org.uk/product/106/.

I think that the possibilities for online mind-mapping tools are extensive. However, it may need some attention, because as it gets “fancier” and more complicated (think Prezi), the accessibility may be more limited unless the manufacturers are constantly considering this. I am very interested to do some work with it and try it out.

I started this week by reading Knoll’s “Feminist Disability Studies Pedagogy” because I am currently taking a feminist theory class and this coming week we are looking at intersectionality. From the beginning, I thought Knoll’s understanding of UD is very different from what we have explored in class. I think that one of the best things that Wendy has done (something that I will be explaining in my UD for Residence Halls program I am preparing) is emphasizing that UD is not an either/or to accommodations. One of the major reasons for this is that some accommodations for disabilities would conflict with each other in an exclusively UD world (such as a strobeing fire alarm, which is meant to assist those who are deaf, but could trigger a response in someone with a seizure disorder). For me, I think that what Knoll describes and decides on is UD, but not as she understands UD; she describes how we have looked at UD in this class (at least from my perspective). We should be creating a world that is less disabling through the use of UD, but still acknowledging that certain people may need something specific to them. As a for instance, maybe we have the strobeing fire alarms installed in every residence hall room, with a switch on the side that turns off the strobe. This way, those that need (or want) the strobe, have it available to them, and those that don’t need or want it can turn it off. I think that this is an example of UD with accommodations, since each individual will still have to decide whether they want the strobe on or not. I do think she also brings up a significant issue regarding privilege. In my opinion, if we had a utopian UD world, privilege wouldn’t exist, because everyone would be accommodated with what they need, from disability to class to race. I think the issue becomes that it may not be possible (or at least entirely likely) to create a world free from privilege and, ergo, free from the oppression that comes along with it.

 

When reading “Faculty Collaboration to Improve Equity, Access,and Inclusion in Higher Education,” the following sentence caught my attention: “UDL encourages educators to build accessible elements into learning environments in the same way architects build ramps and curb cuts fromthe design stage.” This is something that I think I need to emphasize in my program that I prepare as a reason for doing UD. My thought would be to give the attendees the example of a building being built and a ramp being added at the end of the design and building process to make sure it met ADA standards and ask them how it would make a person with a mobility issue feel. Assuming they would come up with answers such as depressing, feeling undervalued, and being an afterthought, I would try to explain that this is how many students feel when an accommodation has to be constructed in the classroom or residence hall space (either physically or pedagogically). The thought of that person being able to use that space or learn in that space was an afterthought and that the space or curriculum really wasn’t made for them. As Knoll talked about in her article, it is important to create a welcoming space from the beginning, taking into account the accommodations that people may need from the start, since then it creates a feeling that “you are supposed to be here, just like everyone else in the room.” I think through explaining the importance of UD in this way I could show attendees how UD has everything to do with making people with disabilities feel like they are included and are “supposed to be there.”