AccessCollege: A Promising Practice in Making Postsecondary Institutions Welcoming and Accessible to Students with Disabilities

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AccessCollege was funded by the U.S. Department of Education (grant #P333A050064) to continue to offer and refine the successful professional development and resources for faculty (DO-IT Prof) and administrators (DO-IT Admin) of earlier projects, and complement them with the identification, validation, and application of campus-wide Campus Accessibility Indicators to document institutional change toward more accessible campuses and programs.

AccessCollege staff developed project methods and materials with a team of faculty and administrators representing twenty-three two- and four-year institutions each paired with another campus during this project. Staff and team members

  • developed and delivered professional development and technical assistance using multiple delivery systems.
  • developed and validated Campus Accessibility Indicators and use pre-post checklists to document institutional changes in policies, procedures, and practices that lead to campuses that are more inclusive of students with disabilities.
  • published articles, prepared a book, and distributed training videos, publications, and web resources to share successful practices in training faculty and staff and promoting applications of universal design in higher education.
  • improved the accessibility of activities and products of professional organizations.
  • developed The Center for Universal Design in Education website.

Select "AccessCollege" from the DO-IT homepage to find links to the following comprehensive websites designed for faculty, student services professionals, administrators, employers, student veterans, and students:

  • The Board Room
  • The Center for Universal Design in Education
  • The Employment Office
  • The Faculty Room
  • The Student Lounge
  • The Student Services Conference Room
  • The Veterans Center

Within these websites are guidelines and information that lead to more accessible courses and programs and that help students with disabilities prepare for success in college.

Consult the book Universal design in higher education: From principles to practice published by Harvard Education Press and edited by Sheryl Burgstahler and Rebecca Cory. You can receive a 20% discount on your order of this book through DO-IT.

The AccessCollege team drafted the following list of eleven Campus Accessibility Indicators. These indicators are starting points for conversation about how to create an inclusive campus. Suggestions for improving the list should be sent to doit@uw.edu.

University conversations:

  1. The university-level mission is inclusive of people with disabilities.
  2. Disability is included in discussions of diversity and special populations on campus.

Administrative empowerment:

  1. Policies, procedures, and practices are regularly reviewed for barrier removal and inclusivity.
  2. Administrators, staff, faculty, and student leaders are trained, encouraged, and empowered to take action around disability and universal design issues.
  3. People with disabilities are visible (even if their disabilities are not) on campus including in positions of power or authority.

Infusion of universal design in all campus offerings:

  1. Budgeting reflects the reality of the cost of universal design and of accommodating current and prospective employees, students, and visitors with disabilities.
  2. Measures of student success are the same for all student populations; institutional research includes this data.
  3. Campus marketing, publications, and public relations are accessible and include disability representation.
  4. Campus websites, including web-based courses, meet established accessibility and usability standards.
  5. Relevant disability issues are addressed in curriculum.
  6. All campus facilities are physically accessible and universally designed.

For details about the implementation of AccessCollege, consult the publication AccessCollege: Systemic Change for Postsecondary Institutions.

Other Knowledge Base articles related to this topic include DO-IT Prof: A Promising Practice in Making Postsecondary Instruction Accessible to Students with Disabilities and DO-IT Admin: A Promising Practice in Making Student Services Accessible to Students with Disabilities.

Last update or review: January 09, 2014