DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) at the University of Washington has, since 1992, worked to increase the representation of individuals with disabilities in postsecondary education and employment. In 1999 the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) funded DO-IT Prof (grant # P333A999042), 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; some strategies were piloted in DO-IT Prof and DO-IT Admin.
In AccessCollege, funded by OPE (grant # P333A050064) for three years beginning 10/1/05, DO-IT 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. Staff and Team members will:
- develop and deliver professional development and technical assistance using multiple delivery systems, including a new comprehensive Summer Institute for Faculty and Academic Administrators, and evaluate effectiveness using indicators of faculty change and improved student success.
- identify systemic strategies that can be used at postsecondary institutions with a wide variety of characteristics to apply universal design and become more inclusive of students with disabilities; develop and validate Systemic Change Indicators; and use pre-post checklists to document institutional changes in policies, procedures and practices.
- improve the accessibility of activities and products of professional organizations.
- publish articles and a book, and distribute training videos, publications, and web resources to disseminate successful practices in training faculty and student service staff, applications of universal design at postsecondary institutions, and other topics that make postsecondary institutions more inclusive of students with disabilities and thereby increase opportunities for success in college and careers.
Project methods will result in postsecondary faculty and administrators better prepared to fully include students with disabilities in their courses and service units, campus programs with systems in place to assure full access to students with disabilities, and improved accessibility of professional organizations. Ultimately, AccessCollege will increase the success of individuals with disabilities in postsecondary education and careers.