Westminster is beginning our second of three years participating in a grant-funded research initiative called Project ShIFT (Shaping Inclusion through Foundational Transformation). As a part of our participation in Project ShIFT, and in response to the broadened definitions and protectiions in the reauthorization of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Office of Disability Resources is in the process of updating its policies and procedures to be more consistent with current best practices in the field.
About Project ShIFT
Project ShIFT (SHaping Inclusion through Foundational Transformation) is a 3-year grant funded initiative of the Disability Resources Office of Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. The focus of the project is to prepare and support postsecondary disability service providers from across the country to examine and change disability policies and practices on their campuses.
The first year of the project focuses on campus disability resource programs and staff. Participants will explore progressive views of disability, universal design concepts, and conduct a careful examination of the subtle messages about disability that we encounter on a daily basis. Through a comprehensive curriculum, disability service professionals will examine the policies and practices of their offices and make plans for introducing changes in their policies, practices, and campus interactions.
During the second year of the project, a faculty member from each participant institution will be invited to participate. The disability service providers will serve as leaders for faculty in the redesign of curriculum, the use of UD instructional strategies, and the infusion of disability into course content. Faculty participants will examine their own teaching strategies, consider how course design impacts student inclusion, and develop a plan for integrating new design ideas into their courses.
The project will create and disseminate training curriculum for DS staff to analyze and enhance their own policies and practices and guide faculty in the development of more inclusive courses, the template for a DS action plan, implementation plans for faculty, and a replication manual. Campus-wide dissemination will be through trained DS staff and faculty with the goal of increasing institutional capacity; national dissemination will be through publication, presentation, and this project web site.
Many changes are under way, including our promotion and support of Universal Design in Instruction (UDI), and our renewed focus on disability definitions and reframing. It is important to note that these changes are intended to: respond to developing legal and social trends, reduce unnecessary barriers to access for qualified students, and bolster the overall climate of diversity on campus. None of these changes are to reduce student responsibility, faculty academic freedom, or Westminster’s curricular rigor.