Abstracts of Resources

Belch, Holley A., and James Barricelli. Curriculum Transformation and Disability: Implementing Universal Design in Higher Education (review). Journal of College Student Development 45, no. 1 (2004): 107-110.

Abstract: This is a review of Curriculum Transformation and Disability: Implementing Universal Design in Higher Education, edited by Jeanne Higbee. The intent of this volume is to inform specifically disability services staff and faculty to Universal Design and provide student services staff with examples for student affairs.

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This book features nine chapters authored primarily by faculty members capture how curriculum can be adapted for all learners and offer viable strategies on how to create inclusive classroom environments. The book is available free of charge both on-line (from http://www.gen.umn.edu/research/crdeul or http://www.gen.umn.edu/research/ctad) and in hard copy.


“Some findings from the 2015 University New Student Census,” University of Maryland Counseling Center Research Unit, Counseling Center UNSC Brief Report.

Abstract: The University New Student Census (UNSC) is an annual online survey given by invitation to new incoming freshmen, transfer students, and Freshmen Connection admits, who register to attend a summer Orientation session. The survey contains both stand-alone demographic items and student development-related scales. It explores experiences, characteristics, attitudes, behaviors, and aspirations of new incoming students. Respondents were asked to identify from a list any disability they have. Overall, 17% said they had a disability with ADD/ADHD being the most common. Overall, 57% said they would like to have a “buddy” here on campus to help them navigate the university system. New transfers were the most likely group to report that they would like to have a “buddy” to help them navigate the university system. Overall, almost 50% of respondents said that for 3 or more days out of the last 7, they woke up not feeling rested no matter how much sleep they got.


Blizzard, Deborah, and Susan Foster. “Feminist pedagogy and universal design in a deaf and hearing world: Linking cultures through artifacts and understanding.” Feminist Teacher 17, no. 3 (2007): 225-236.

Abstract: At the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), deaf students and deaf culture intermingle with students from other nations, states, and cities. Deaf culture and its language (American Sign Language or ASL) figure prominently in most teaching venues. This article demonstrates how feminist pedagogy and Universal Design link deaf and hearing cultures in the classroom to build better understanding between individuals and create an arena in which respect for difference fosters a positive learning environment. Universal Design is the theory that accessibility to all groups is necessary to promote a healthy environment for all. Universal Design was first applied to physical environments; examples include curb cuts, ramps, wide doorways, and signage based on pictures rather than text. Similarly, feminist pedagogy empowers students, seeks egalitarian relationships, and strives to teach at the margins where students of different cultures are assisted in learning the material and engaging the course. To accomplish this, professors must be aware of the material presented and in which the students live. Universal Design and feminist pedagogy are thus linked. The pressing issue facing all faculty at RIT is how to teach to deaf and hearing students at the same time. Though both groups are intelligent and engaging, their needs in the classroom differ. Specifically, students requiring ASL interpretation will always experience a delay in receiving spoken information due to interpreter processing time; or the time during which an interpreter takes spoken information and translates it to ASL. To teach to all students at RIT requires flexibility, turn-taking, and mutual respect.


USM Accessible Technology and Information Workgroup Report

Abstract: At its meeting on April 24, 2015, the Maryland Association on Higher Education and Disability (MD AHEAD) focused on accessible information and technology, as well as assistive technology. A large majority of Maryland 4-year and 2-year postsecondary institutions had Disability Support Services representatives there. National Federation of the Blind President, Mark Riccobono, gave the keynote address, and the USM Accessible Information and Technology Workgroup provided an update on the work being done by USM institutions to address electronic accessibility for individuals with disabilities. At the meeting, the community colleges expressed an interest in joining in the USM efforts. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how Maryland’s postsecondary institutions could collaborate on efforts to make technology and information more accessible to students with disabilities at our respective campuses.

To utilize strategies that will stimulate collaboration on the USM campuses to affect changes that will ultimately benefit all. An accessible information technology environment enhances usability for everyone. As Maryland’s public system of higher education, it is imperative that the website content at USM institutions be accessible to people with disabilities, including those who use assistive technologies. Web content must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. 

Current media usage, both in the classroom and on the web, often present barriers to persons with disabilities. As more web and classroom content includes video and audio components at USM institutions, there is an increasing need for captioning, as well as descriptive audio. To ensure the accessibility of instructional material and technology used by USM institutions, those responsible for making decisions about which products to procure should consider accessibility as one criterion for acquisition. This is particularly important for enterprise-level systems or technologies that impact a large number of students, faculty and staff. USM libraries must be accessible to individuals with disabilities. This report is a starting point and is notcomprehensive. Nevertheless, we believe it is a solid beginning.


McDermott, Ray, and Hervé Varenne. "Culture as disability." Anthropology & Education Quarterly 26, no. 3 (1995): 324-348.

Abstract: Disabilities are best approached as cultural fabrication, and deafness is shown as an example in which it is not seen as a disability in a given cultural context. Theories of culture and disability have similarly evolved, and disability-as- culture have become an increasingly popular orientation in the United States. Similarly, learning disabilities and illiteracy have become institutionalized as key cultural aspects of American education. This work is not about disabled persons, but on the power of culture to disable.


Haber, Mason G., Valerie L. Mazzotti, April L. Mustian, Dawn A. Rowe, Audrey L. Bartholomew, David W. Test, and Catherine H. Fowler. “What Works, When, for Whom, and With Whom A Meta-Analytic Review of Predictors of Postsecondary Success for Students With Disabilities.” Review of Educational Research (2015).

Abstract: Students with disabilities experience poorer post-school outcomes compared with their peers without disabilities. Existing experimental literature on “what works” for improving these outcomes is rare; however, a rapidly growing body of research investigates correlational relationships between experiences in school and post-school outcomes. A meta-analytic review provides means for assessing which experiences show the strongest relationships with long-term outcomes and variability in these relationships by outcome, research design, and population. This article presents a meta-analysis of in-school predictors of postsecondary employment, education, and independent living of youth with disabilities, examining 35 sources and 27 samples (N =16,957) published from January of 1984 through May of 2010. Predictors showed differing relationships with education versus employment. Some of the least studied predictors, especially those involving multistakeholder collaboration, had larger effects than predictors more typically the focus of correlational research. Implications for future research and practice are considered.


Orr, Ann C., and Sara Bachman Hammig. “Inclusive postsecondary strategies for teaching students with learning disabilities: A review of the literature.” Learning Disability Quarterly 32, no. 3 (2009): 181-196.

Abstract: One out of every 11 postsecondary undergraduates report having a disability, and students with learning disabilities are the largest and fastest growing subgroup of this population. Although faculty are becoming more comfortable with providing students with learning disabilities accommodations as mandated by federal law, many instructors are using inclusive teaching strategies to better meet the needs of all students. Principles of universal design, borrowed from architecture and manufacturing, are increasingly influential on postsecondary pedagogy. This review of the literature examined 38 research-based articles related to universal design and inclusive practice at the postsecondary level. Five primary themes are identified and discussed in relation to their supporting literature: backward design, multiple means of presentation, inclusive teaching strategies and learner supports, inclusive assessment, and instructor approachability and empathy.

Rao, Kavita, Min Wook Ok, and Brian R. Bryant. "A review of research on universal design educational models." Remedial and Special Education (2014).

Abstract: Universal design for learning (UDL) has gained considerable attention in the field of special education, acclaimed for its promise to promote inclusion by supporting access to the general curriculum. In addition to UDL, there are two other universal design (UD) educational models referenced in the literature, universal design of instruction (UDI) and universal instructional design (UID). This descriptive review of 13 research studies conducted in pre-K–12 and post-secondary settings examined how researchers are applying and evaluating UD in educational settings. Results of the review illustrated that studies use a range of research designs to examine student outcomes and participant perceptions of UD-based curriculum and instruction. Researchers report on their application of UD principles in varied ways, with no standard formats for describing how UD is used. Based on results of the review, we provide recommendations to help establish a meaningful research base on the validity of UD in education.


Sapon-Shevin, Mara, “Students and (Dis)Ability,” The Sage Guide to Curriculum Development (New York: Sage, 2015), 276-283.

Abstract: How we think about and talk about disability affects not only our understanding of the labeled individual but also our responses and interactions with that person. Traditional ways of talking about students with disabilities often equal the person with their disability, i.e. “He is deaf.” If we view disability as something within a person that causes difficulty then it framed as something that can and should be fixed, an orientation known as the medical model. This is problematic, as disability should be viewed as an identity similar to race/class/gender/sexual orientation, and as a broader social construction. Disability thus is a critical element in teaching that is often ignored.


Jennifer Katz (2015) Implementing the Three Block Model of Universal Design for Learning: effects on teachers’ self-efficacy, stress, and job satisfaction in inclusive classrooms K-12, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 19:1, 1-20.

Abstract: Fifty-eight teachers of grades 1–12 in 10 schools located in two rural and three urban school divisions in Manitoba were involved in a study implementing the Three Block Model of Universal Design for Learning and exploring its outcomes for teachers and students. This article reports teachers’ perceptions related to the outcomes of the implementation of the model for both students and themselves and gives voice to teachers working in challenging, diverse classrooms regarding the barriers they face to inclusive practice and what supports are needed. After implementing the model, teachers reported positive student outcomes in terms of reductions in challenging behavior, improved student-to- student interactions, engagement, and learning. They also believed the model improved their practice and self-efficacy related to inclusive education, reduced their workload, and improved job satisfaction. However, teachers also articulated several barriers to its implementation, including the need for collaborative planning time, differentiated resources, professional learning communities, and public education.