UCAT is co-sponsoring two upcoming events that focus on the very interesting ways in which disabilities challenge how many of us think about teaching and learning. On Monday, October 14, ODS Director Lois Harris and University ADA Coordinator L. Scott Lissner will conduct an interactive presentation called Universal Design: Accommodations or Just Good Teaching? And on Thursday, November 14, the InterACT theater program will facilitate a discussion through a short, student-created theater piece in an interactive session called Both Sides of the Desk: Learning and Teaching with Disabilities.

From L. Scott Lissner:

“Universal Design attempts to meet the needs of the full range of eligible inhabitants.  Originally applied to architecture and the built environment, it can be applied to the learning environment.  In the Universal Design of Instruction, materials are formatted and delivered to offer experiences and choices that recognize multiple learning preferences, multiple intelligences and varied perceptual strengths. Universal Design is learner centered, providing more control over the methods of accessing and demonstrating information by using a variety of presentations, assessments and feedback methods.  This flexibility and control allows culturally diverse learners, including those with disabilities, to make choices that accommodate many of their needs, thus minimizing the need for the instructor to make individual modifications.  The goal of Universal Design of instruction is not simply to provide equal access to information, but equal access to learning.”

From Elizabeth Wellman, Graduate Collaborator with InterACT:

“As we consider how disability might impact classroom experience, we are aware of the ways in which one’s experience of disability might be complicated by both visible and invisible barriers. InterACT utilizes an interactive theatrical device as a means of continuing a conversation around possible challenges to teaching and learning with a disability. After a short performance piece, the actors will remain in character to dialogue with workshop participants.  Participants will be invited to ask questions, offer new information or perspective on an issue, and have a dialogue around problem-solving. What types of barriers might exist between a teacher or student and a resource or solution? How might we negotiate, evaluate, and improve teaching and learning experiences when a teacher or student is impacted by disability?”

These events are part of a conversation about the power of teaching practices and principles that attend to the enormous variability among learners–learning styles and strengths, individual struggles, personalities, cultural backgrounds, physical and mental disabilities, and personal histories. By engaging with disability as a part of our classrooms, we can enhance and deepen inclusive practices through course design, lesson planning, classroom management, and all ways in which we interact with other learners and teachers. We hope you will come with a desire to share your questions, experiences, and insights on how disability challenges us to think deeply about the very nature of teaching and learning, and to reflect on our own teaching. (Click the links above to find out about times and locations, and to register.)