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.”

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