September 13 marked the beginning of DO-IT Prof, a model demonstration project funded by the U.S. Department of Education (grant #P33A990042) to help college faculty and administrators address the needs of students with disabilities.
Many college faculty and instructors are not adequately prepared to address the challenges that result when students with disabilities enroll in their classes. They are often not aware of specific accommodations and campus resources and may have lower expectations for students with disabilities than their non-disabled peers. Although various campuses around the country, like the University of Washington, have developed fragmented programs to increase faculty awareness, no one has created a comprehensive program using the multi-modal delivery mechanisms that will be used in this project. DO-IT Prof will provide professional training that responds to the diverse needs of faculty including their learning styles, previous experience, and schedules.
DO-IT Prof staff will work with a project team that includes disabled student services administrators and faculty from more than 20 institutions of higher education from across the United States. Project team members will each choose an institutional partner in their state that has demographics (e.g., racial mix, size, location) that are different than their own. Team members will help develop program materials, coordinate the delivery of professional development presentations to faculty on their own campuses and partner schools, and collect evaluation data to ensure high quality of project materials and activities. Members of AHEAD (Association for Higher Education and Disability) and WAPED (Washington Association on Postsecondary Education and Disability) are part of the project team. Students with disabilities will also be included in project efforts.
DO-IT Prof will create and deliver at least six models of professional development.
Model 1: A 20-30 minute presentation to be delivered to faculty and administrators at regular departmental meetings to introduce participants to basic legal issues, accommodation strategies, and resources specific to their campuses.
Model 2: A 1-2 hour departmental meeting presentation with special focus on providing accommodations to students with a variety of disabilities.
Model 3: A half-day or full-day workshop for more in-depth training typically offered on a campus-wide basis.
Model 4: A televised instruction option using a series of videotapes to deliver a one-hour program on public television.
Model 5: A distance learning "anytime-anywhere" course that provides lessons and discussion delivered via electronic mail.
Model 6: Self-paced, Web-based instruction with expanded content of other models including downloadable videos.
Completion of this project will result in faculty and administrators being better prepared to fully include students with disabilities on their campuses and contribute to system change within post-secondary institutions across the nation. Ultimately, this project will result in greater post-secondary educational opportunities for individuals with disabilities.