AccessCollege: Systemic Change for Postsecondary Institutions

This publication describes promising practices and resources funded through the AccessCollege project. It is expected that, ultimately, efforts such as these will increase the success of individuals with disabilities in postsecondary education and careers. Replication is encouraged.


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 academic 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. 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.

In 2005, AccessCollege (Grant #P333A050064) was funded to continue to offer and refine the successful professional development and resources for faculty and administrators of earlier projects, complement them with the identification, validation, and application of campus-wide Campus Accessibility Indicators to document institutional change toward more accessible campuses and programs, and develop online The Center for Universal Design in Education. AccessCollege staff worked 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.
  • Initiated The Center for Universal Design in Education.
  • Developed The Veterans Center with resources for veterans with disabilities and faculty and campus units who support them.
  • Published articles, prepare a book, and distribute 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.

Project activities resulted 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 ensure full access to students with disabilities, improved accessibility of professional organizations, and enhanced resources for ongoing impact. The DO-IT Center continues to maintain the resources created during the AccessCollege funding period.


Select AccessCollege from to find links to comprehensive websites designed for faculty, student services professionals, administrators, employers, student veterans, and students:

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.

Campus Accessibility Indicators

The goal of accessibility for people with disabilities on campus is to ensure that all people experience the campus fully and equally through the same venues. This can be done through ongoing development of an accessible campus that embraces and celebrates diversity.

The AccessCollege Team developed the following draft 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

University conversations:

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

Administrative empowerment:

  • Policies, procedures, and practices are regularly reviewed for barrier removal and inclusivity.
  • Administrators, staff, faculty, and student leaders are trained, encouraged, and empowered to take action around disability and universal design issues.
  • 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:

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

AccessCollege Team

Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D., directs AccessCollege activities. Members of the original AccessCollege Team and their partner institutions were:

Alice Anderson
Coordinator of Technology Access Program
Division of Information Technology
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Madison, WI
Partner: Madison Area Technical College, Madison, WI

Beatrice Awoniyi
Assistant Dean of Students
Director of Student Disability Resource Center
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL
Partners: Tallahassee Community College and Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL

Meryl Berstein
Director of the Center for Academic Support
Johnson and Wales University
Providence, RI
Partner: Community College of Rhode Island, Warwick, RI

Sharon Bittner
Director of Academic Support Services
Des Moines Area Community College
Ankeny, IA
Partner: Iowa State University, Ames, IA

Barbara Brown
Academic Counselor Kodiak College
Kodiak, AK
Partner: University of Alaska, Anchorage, AK

Deborah Casey
Assistant Dean of Student Services
Green River Community College
Auburn, WA

Adele Darr
Director of Disability Resource Center
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ
Partner: South Mountain Community College, Phoenix, AZ

Tim Dailey
Director of Disability Services for Students
Southwestern Oregon Community College
Coos Bay, OR
Partner: University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

Jim Gorske
Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Disability Resource Center
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL
Partner: Greenville Technical College, Greenville, SC

Pam Griffin
General Disability Services Coordinator
Disability Services & Resources
University of Minnesota–Duluth
Duluth, MN
Partner: Fond Du Lac Tribal and Community College, Cloquet, MN

Grace T. Hanson
Director of Disabled Student Services
Mt. San Antonio College
Walnut, CA
Partner: California State University-Long Beach, Long Beach, CA

Dyane Haynes
Director of Disability Resources for Students
University of Washington Seattle, WA
Partner: Seattle University, Seattle, WA

Elaine High
Learning Disabilities Specialist
Virginia Walker
Cognitive Disabilities and Brain Injury Specialist and Student-Athlete Liaison
Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI
Partner: Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Kalamazoo, MI

Melissa Locher
Coordinator for Disability Services
Missouri Southern State University
Joplin, MO
Partner: Crowder Community College, Neosho, MO

Rodney Pennamon
Director of Disability Services
The Margaret A. Staton Office of Disability Services
Georgia State University
Atlanta, GA
Partner: Georgia Perimeter College, Clarkston, GA

Patricia Richter
Coordinator of Services for Americans with Disabilities
Office of Human Diversity
Kutztown University
Kutztown, PA
Partner: Lehigh Carbon Community College, Schnecksville, PA

Sharon Robertson
Assistant Director of Student Success Center
University of Tennessee at Martin
Martin, TN
Partner: Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN

Rosezelia Roy
Coordinator of Students with Disabilities Program
Virginia State University
Petersburg, VA
Partner: J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, Richmond, VA

Audrey Annette Smelser
Counselor and Disability Specialist Student Support Services
National Park Community College
Hot Springs, AR
Partner: Henderson State University Arkadelphia, AR

Al Souma
Counselor of Disability Support Services
Seattle Central Community College
Seattle, WA
Partner: Seattle University, Seattle, WA

Suzanne Tucker
Coordinator of Disability Resource Office
Southern Connecticut State University
New Haven, CT
Partner: Gateway Community College, New Haven, CT

Linda Walter
Director, Disability Support Services
Seton Hall University
South Orange, NJ
Partner: Raritan Valley Community College, Somerville, NJ

Model Demonstration Projects ensure students with disabilities receive a quality higher education.

AccessCollege was a Model Demonstration Project developed by a grant from the Office of Postsecondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education, #P333A030064. The purpose of these projects was to develop innovative, effective, and efficient teaching methods to enhance the skills and abilities of postsecondary faculty and administrators in working with students who have disabilities. Links to all of the Model Demonstration Projects can be found at

About DO-IT

DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) serves to increase the successful participation of individuals with disabilities in challenging academic programs such as those in science, engineering, mathematics, and technology. Primary funding for DO-IT is provided by the National Science Foundation, the State of Washington, and the U.S. Department of Education. DO-IT is a collaboration of UW Information Technology and the Colleges of Engineering and Education at the University of Washington.

Grants and gifts fund DO-IT publications, videos, and programs to support the academic and career success of people with disabilities. Contribute today by sending a check to DO-IT, Box 354842, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-4842.

Your gift is tax deductible as specified in IRS regulations. Pursuant to RCW 19.09, the University of Washington is registered as a charitable organization with the Secretary of State, state of Washington. For more information call the Office of the Secretary of State, 1-800-322-4483.

To order free publications or newsletters use the DO-IT Publications Order Form; to order videos and training materials use the Videos, Books and Comprehensive Training Materials Order Form.

For further information, to be placed on the DO-IT mailing list, request materials in an alternate format, or to make comments or suggestions about DO-IT publications or web pages contact:

University of Washington
Box 354842
Seattle, WA 98195-4842
206-685-DOIT (3648) (voice/TTY)
888-972-DOIT (3648) (voice/TTY)
206-221-4171 (fax) 509-328-9331 (voice/TTY) Spokane

Founder and Director: Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D.

DO-IT Funding and Partners


The contents of this publication were developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, OPE #P333A030064. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government. Copyright © 2012, 2011, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005, University of Washington. Permission is granted to copy these materials for educational, noncommercial purposes provided the source is acknowledged.