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This 112 pages' Journal reflects the important role of Disability Services (DS) on University Campus, defining it as a benefit to the high education community. It also provides helpful information on how aiding students or staff with disabilities to be a part of Campus Dynamics and not excluded. It gets the reader's mind when clearly and directly alerts to the academic diversity as a characteristic to be accepted and "normalized", not exactly a flaw or problem itself that needs to be cured. Although DS have an undeniable importance nowadays it's difficult not to question if it's the relevant solution or just an alternative that blinds society for the real problem of non-inclusive buildings and environments.
Starting with an introduction by editors Wendy S. Harbour - an expertise in disability studies and teacher at Lawrence Taishoff Center for Inclusive Education - and Joseph W. Madaus - Professor and Director of the Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability on University of Connecticut - this volume is presented divided into four sections. The first section relies on a historic overview by editor MADAUS himself at chapter 1, followed by other contributions from several authors that will compose what editors indicate like the next two sections, divided into the coming chapters 2-7, that will explore case-studies and flexible strategies, as well as legislation's benefits or limitations to help students or staff at a Campus University. It concludes, as section 4 with chapter 8 -10, with a more deep approach, looking at the bigger picture of disability itself, questioning the contribution of Universal Design and how all this relates do DS.
This type of services first gained importance when President Lincoln signed into law authorizing the establishment of the 1st College division at Columbia Institution for the deaf and dumb (1864). Then, as MADAUS describes on Chapter 1, one of the most important early efforts was the fighting of returned injured veterans for the right of get back to study so can they achieve a better life (Vocational Rehabilitation act 1918). In the next decades several laws were published resulting in, first, a corresponding increase of disability veterans in colleges, and consequently, general students from early age to university students. However it still remains a critical question that is - why even then and nowadays, with the consequential progress in legislation (like ADAAA) requiring institutions both private and public to provide access of qualified students with disabilities, it looks like there's still a lot to implement that leads to significant implications? Everyone heard about this theme, everyone admits its importance and it's obvious that these concerns or legislation are not new so why don't people act in a consequential and relevant way towards inclusive environments? DS professionals are presented in this volume as a valuable resource to campus administrations in the evolution of this matter and as an alternative response to this question, for aiding people with disabilities to enter with equal access in high education equipment, being consider by MADAUS like a recognized profession. DS have the goal of propitiate autonomous behavior from all participants on Campus' life, being those students or staff, providing reasonable accommodation that is flexible enough to avoid intentionally or unintentionally discrimination. On chapter 2 Donna M. Korbel, Jennifer H. Lucia, Christine M. Wenzel and Bryanna G. Anderson, all from Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability on University of Connecticut, use the example of their own center to provide ideas for a better transition from secondary students to high education with a focus on the importance of interdisciplinary solutions as an inclusive way to allow autonomous and safe acess. They realize there are several emerging populations with a lot of difficulties to fit in, enhancing: asperger's Syndrome, race and sexual differences, veterans, chronic illness and international students. As they emerge it is increasingly important for DS to make sure they're prepared not only to provide fair accommodations but as well as these expertise make aware to ensure non-discrimination. With this, editors add Rebecca C. Cory on chapter 3 with a closer approach to the procedures of determining reasonable accommodation. CORY gets reader's attention when refers Universal Design as a possible solution for including all students in a way that reduces stigma and the need for accommodations focused on one-by-one solutions provided by DS. So, in this instance, the reader's attention is forced to leave the focus on DS principles and main goals for the first time. Here it rises a much more critical question - If by any chance an University Campus is physically and functionally ready to receive all type of students, there is a need to DS department exist? This approach gets even more evident with the contribution of Dave Edyburn alarming for a matter of attitude's change, on chapter 4, as he says "Unless professors and administrators understand that academic diversity is a characteristic, not a flaw, of every classroom, campus will continue to devote significant resources to providing remedial support services and individual disability accommodations."(p38). EDYBURN is a teacher at University of Wisconsin and also alert for the benefits of technology to enhance teaching, learning and performance, allowing campus to become more inclusive. This inclusive campus doesn't refer only to students with disabilities but also it doesn't forget the staff and everyone that has access to university, like Dave Fuecker and Editor Wendy S. Harbour defends on chapter 5, explaining how DS act in University of Minnesota services in order to provide accommodations and the best solutions to staff with disabilities and chronic health conditions.
Editors add chapter 6 and 7 Salome Heyward, Ann Lundquist and Allan Shackelford to discuss the limitations of legal compliance with detail. They first discuss the most obvious point of start - ADA Americans with disabilities act, lately with amendments to solve what they thought it was the main issue, in other words the interpretation of "disability". Although its definition was a real problem, it's not clear that is the main issue that was avoiding Universities to be inclusive. Actually, it's urgent to understand why buildings and surroundings are still excluding people with disabilities. The authors guide their essay towards a better understanding of legislation, and even asking "is it enough?". CORY said earlier "These laws guide work with students with disabilities on campus, but it is not enough. It is a good starting point, but should not be the ending point". Then, Wanda M. Hadley, Robert A. Stodden, Steven E. Brown, Kelly Roberts and Steven J. Taylor are called to strive of disability in its cultural context, looking at a bigger picture of the problem instead of focusing on DS benefits. The context of this volume when readers get to these authors no more get extinguish in DS insights, ending its approach calling the reader's attention to Universal Design as possible solution instead of special DS one-by-one accommodation, as it offers equal learning opportunities and provides free, autonomous and secure access and stay in Campus. They add more value to Roberta Cory's provocation about diversity being a regular characteristic of campus dynamics that need to be embrace.
Due to the growing number of students with disabilities nowadays, providing inclusive education still emerges like an important issue and it's urgent to provide significant resources and not just remedial ones as EDYBURN and CORY alert. This volume presents itself as an important introduction to a work piece of inclusive education and DS studies as its shows updated and creative strategies to allow autonomous access in high level education. However the innovation in this essay is not about the pragmatic explanation about how aiding students and staff with disability to fit in as fair and safe as possible, but at the point they start to admit that it wouldn't be primordial if universal design was applied to campus in general. There's any reason for DS existence if university campus were inclusive physically and functionally by itself? Its undeniable that all students with disability must need several accommodations so they can access in a safe and autonomous way, and learn efficiently, and those can be provided by DS as one-by-one solution, now that universal design campus still seems like an utopia, but it can't help it to provoke asking if they are needed if buildings were prepared. With this volume readers embrace the idea that society needs to change attitude towards difference so public equipments can, finally, be universal designed and be at the top of its potential, including everyone, despite their differences, mobility problems or learning difficulties. It makes its job with quality when encourages people to admit TAYLOR's point "Disability is part of the human condition and will touch practically all students directly or indirectly at some time in their lives. If people live long enough, they will become disable (â€¦)". This means a social change. Repeating TAYLOR "Disability is not a characteristic that exists exclusively in the person so defined, but a construct that finds its meaning in social and cultural context".
In this context it's not fair to forget professionals of construction field, like architects and engineers, that have a primordial role. The social attitudes lead to lack of attention to inclusive details, as well as, in a reciprocal way un-inclusive environments withdraw significance to inclusivity. So, considering that the dimensions of exclusion do not exist independently from social-spatial processes, architects should re-think their methodologies, to find a balance between aesthetics and functionality, towards universal design. People with disabilities are regarded with some indifference, where measures to facilitate mobility and access are often presented as an after-though, discriminating as well in the conceptual and designing part of the environment. The universal design emerges in this volume as a possible solution, but, in provocation, it's maybe possible to think about it as the main and only solution considering DS a special alternative. DS finds accommodations to a person "with a problem", universal design sees the building/environments as "the problem". Although this matter an immense social change, and recognizing everyone tries barriers at least once in their lives, the arrangements for access and safe stay in buildings can be a planning matter, making the architect as responsible. The reasons of exclusion happen much far than a ramp issue. It might need to think designing processes and new methodologies, in order to universal design be applied and DS no longer needed. When a new building is proposed or when planning a change of use of an existing building, professionals should consider diversity, in order to make society realize that universal design is possible, not utopic. Universal design is urgent because there's still university campus inadequate for people with disability, even recognizing only so much can be change about existent buildings nowadays. DS should be replacing universal design, considering a safe design and strategies to benefit a broad range of students, including the ones with disabilities. It's an architectural concept and should be put in practice to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population. Features will be provided in the concept, flexible design and shape of the building, anticipating a variety of needs for adaptation and accommodations nowadays provided (and well) by DS. DS provides access each time a new individual asks for it, addresses accommodations for a specific person and the problem is individual. Universal design, considers access as part of the environmental design, the building is designed to the greatest extent possible and doesn't look at a disability as problem, and that's why this is the solution and the mirror of educational evolution in higher education spaces.
This volume shows up, at first just, as an introduction to DS advantages, tools, strategies and legal issues but it explores much beyond of what readers expect from it, encouraging everyone to consider disability students with the same important role as the other students, with the same rights to increase their knowledge. It gives a coherent contribution to a better understanding of the problems that students with disabilities have to face when entering in high education and the accommodations DS provide to solve those same problems, illustrating with American case-studies and quoting some of the expertise about disability studies and inclusion education.