Faculty Learning Community


Over the years, we have heard from many faculty about a desire to learn more about accessibility and to think more critically about ways to integrate it into their teaching. Forming a faculty learning community based around learning more about disability, accessibility, and inclusivity provides a structured format to learn more about the topic and develop curricula related to it. 

An AccessEngineering-organized faculty learning community at the University of Washington focused on accessibility met regularly during the Spring 2017 quarter. Participants met weekly to listen to guest experts, discuss readings, and/or give one another feedback.  Several faculty who participated in the group developed curricula and activities that they subsequently were able to implement in their courses.

Establishing a Faculty Learning Community

Begin by recruiting participants to join your faculty learning community. Consider whether participants will all be in engineering or technical fields or come from across the university. You may invite postdocs, graduate students, people with disabilities, disability services professionals, or others to participate in the community. Determine whether individuals can participate remotely and whether to invite individuals from other institutions to participate.

Once you have a group of interested participants, hold an informational meeting to set parameters for your group. Decide when your group will meet, how often to meet, and how long the community will continue meeting. You may establish that each participant will be responsible for organizing and leading one session over the course of time.

Activities for a Faculty Learning Community

Promote members from within the community leading activities or brainstorming together to decide on a schedule for the month, quarter, or year. Below are some ideas that have worked successfully for other communities:

  • Invite guest experts to present on topics related to disability, accessibility, or universal design. These may be faculty from your own campus or they might present remotely. You might look to faculty in engineering departments whose work is related to accessibility or disability or faculty working in disability studies or special education or university staff working in accessible technology.
  • Read and discuss articles related to accessibility and universal design as a group. Review articles in the resources section of this brief.
  • Host a panel of individuals with disabilities to learn about their experiences as people with disabilities navigating campus, faculty, and technology.
  • As participants develop assignments or curricula related to accessibility or universal design, share materials with one another and solicit feedback from one another.

Resources and Example Readings 

Discussion Questions

  • Are there places in the courses you teach where you might add content related to accessibility, disability, or universal design?  Where?
  • How have students responded to this content in your courses?
  • What are resources on your campus or in your local area that you might draw on?