AccessCollege: A Project to Help Create Inclusive Postsecondary Institutions

Lisa Stewart, DO-IT Staff

In 1999 the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) funded DO-IT Prof (grant # P333A990042), which created professional development materials and trained faculty and administrators nationwide to more fully include students with disabilities in their courses. In 2002, OPE funded DO-IT Admin (grant #P333A020044), which expanded DO-IT Prof efforts to train student service administrators and staff as well. Project Team members further identified the critical need to systematically change policies, procedures, and practices in order for both universal design and reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities to be embraced at an institutional level; several strategies were piloted in DO-IT Prof and DO-IT Admin.

AccessCollege, grant #P333A050064, will continue to offer and refine the successful professional development and resources for faculty and administrators of earlier projects, and complement them with the identification, validation, and application of Systemic Change Indicators to document institutional change toward more accessible courses and services. AccessCollege staff will build project methods and materials from earlier work and current research through a nationwide collaboration with a team of faculty and administrators representing 24 two- and four-year institutions each paired with another campus; together they represent institutions with a wide range of characteristics.

The AccessCollege Team came together for its first collaborative meeting February 14-17, in downtown Seattle. Throughout the three-day meeting, Team members shared their expertise and worked on professional development materials including Campus Systemic Change Indicators, formats for training institutes, video development, and material for a book on universal design in education. Team members also continue to expand content for the four postsecondary sites they have worked on for years:

  • The Faculty Room - a space for faculty and academic administrators at postsecondary institutions to learn about how to create classroom environments and academic activities that maximize the learning of all students, including those with disabilities.
  • The Conference Room - a space for staff and administrators at postsecondary institutions to learn about how to create facilities, services, and resources that are accessible to all students, including those with disabilities.
  • The Board Room - a space for high-level administrators at postsecondary institutions to learn about how to create and facilitate the development of programs and services that are accessible to all students, including those with disabilities.
  • The Student Lounge - resources to help students with disabilities prepare for and succeed in college.

These websites can be found at www.washington.edu/doit/Resources/postsec.html.

In addition to a yearly meeting in Seattle, Team members stay in touch via email and bimonthly teleconferences. They also train faculty and staff and disseminate information in their regions. Their continued efforts continue to make campuses nationwide more accessible to students with disabilities.