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.

Advertisements