Feature Articles

Recommended Reading: Disability History

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A seated woman reads a book and drinks coffee

As many of our posts have suggested, the history of disability is long, rich, and nowhere near as well known as it ought to be. Below are some websites and podcasts that illuminate the history of the people, laws and policies, medical and technological developments, and social movements that have shaped the world of disability that we have today.

Disability History Museum

The Disability History Museum (DHM) is a virtual project, seeking to help deepen people’s understanding of how shifting cultural values, notions of identity, laws, and policies have shaped the experience of people with disabilities, and how those experiences are vital to everyone’s lives. With a board and advisors made up largely of disability historians and activists, the DHM features a vast array of resources. Their library is made up of documents and visuals associated with the history of people with disabilities, which can be easily searched through by collection, format, source, keywords, and dates, or browsed by topic. The museum also provides educational lessons, each with their own objectives, materials, and study guide, as well as teaching tools. The DHM website also has a “feature” tab, which showcases...

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Autism and Workplace Anxiety

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Anxiety often cooccurs with autism, which can affect an autistic person's ability to focus and do their job

In our latest tip sheet from DeafTEC and AccessATE, we discussed accommodations and safety for autistic employees. The tip sheet briefly covers stress management. Here, we will dive deeper into the relationship between autism and anxiety, how autistic employees might handle stress at work, and how you as an employer can help.

Tip Sheet: Accommodations and Safety for Autistic Employees

Anxiety, as many of us know, is itself a reaction to stress and something many of us experience from time to time. Anxiety disorders, which last much longer than temporary worries and fears, are particularly common among people on the autism spectrum – in fact, they are the most common cooccurring disorder. Just as in allistic people, an autistic person’s anxiety can be especially triggered in the workplace. Generally speaking, there are four key areas that may especially relate to anxiety in autistic people.

The first is difficulty recognizing emotions in oneself and in others; this makes it hard to understand and process feelings of being scared or safe, which itself can be scary. It can also result in social anxiety due to difficulty with “reading” others, thus making social interaction feel...

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Differences in Autistic v. Allistic Communication

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Autistic and allistic people approach ideas differently, but can learn to communicate effectively.

In our latest tip sheet from DeafTEC and AccessATE, we discuss how communicating with employees with autism can require some adjustments. This, of course, doesn’t mean autistic people are bad communicators – simply that the way they process conversation is different than some of us may be used to. Here, we will further explore the differences between autistic and allistic communication.

Tip Sheet: Workplace Communication for Autistic Employees

For those unfamiliar, “allistic” refers to people who are not on the autism spectrum, and has become an increasingly popular term to help distinguish people from their autistic peers without using judgmental terms like “normal” in contrast to “autistic”. When interacting with an autistic employee, it’s important to remember that there is no one “right” way to communicate, which of course is true regardless of whether one is on the autism spectrum or not. It’s also important to bear in mind that misunderstandings are as frustrating for the autistic person as they are for you, and having a better understanding of autistic communication can prevent breakdowns for both parties.

While autism doesn’t look the same in all people who are on the...

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Recommended Reading: Disability Magazines

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A woman in a wheelchair reads a book with a cat in her lap

Our previous blog post discussed a number of websites that cover disability news, but for a closer look into life with disabilities, magazines can be one of the best sources. Disability magazines are often written by experts who research disabilities or work with people with disabilities, or by people with disabilities themselves. Below are a few outstanding disability periodicals that we recommend as possibly worthy of your time.

The ASHA Leader

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) The ASHA Leader is a monthly magazine and website for and about audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists. The ASHA Leader publishes reports, essays, op-eds, and more. From their website, you can access everything published in the magazine and more. From the home page, you can quickly navigate to their latest and most read articles, quick reads, or narrow your options using the buttons in their “Topics” section on the lower right. You can also explore the major sections of The ASHA Leader via the navigation menu, which includes audiology, speech-language pathology, news, a link to their podcast, and a link to their magazine archives,...

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Recommended Reading: Disability News

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Four people read books among a stack of giant books

The world of disability is constantly evolving and innovating. It seems like every week there are stories about new policies, technologies, and accommodations. All of this means that it can be hard to keep up! However, by picking a handful of good news sources to subscribe to or keep up with, staying up-to-speed on disability news becomes much easier. Here, we’ve assembled some ‘recommended reading’ to help you stay informed and aware.

New York Times

You’re likely familiar with the New York Times, considering it’s one of the most popular newspapers and news sites in the United States. But did you know their website has a robust disability news section? The “Disabilities” topic contains articles and stories ranging from political and social news to personal stories and op-eds. Averaging 14 disability-related articles per month in 2022 thus far, the Times is a reliable source of fresh stories by and for the world of disability. The New York Times does require registering an account to view their articles online, but doing so is free.

The Guardian

Like the New York Times, The Guardian is a popular newspaper and news website that does a good job of covering disability news,...

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Utilizing Your Institution's Disability Resource Center

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Two professionals communicate about their notes on a student who uses a wheelchair

The majority of colleges and universities have a disability resource center (DRC) or office that works to ensure that classes, programs, buildings and other facilities, and services are accessible to students and employees with disabilities. It is through the school’s DRC that a student makes a request for an accommodation when a given class, lab, or building isn’t accessible to them. While the DRC is responsible for these standards and accommodations, faculty can make use of the DRC as well, to improve their classes, classrooms, and labs.

A school’s DRC keeps detailed notes on students with disabilities who have registered with the center. These notes typically include historical and holistic information about the student and their experiences with their disability, as well as a record of previous accommodation requests, and any communication, evaluation, consultation, and approvals and denials thereof. While these notes are largely confidential, the DRC can still advise on what has worked for a given student in the past and any changes you as a faculty member might make to improve accessibility for them. Per the Association on Higher Education and Disability’s (AHEAD) white...

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Applying Universal Design for Learning and Accessibility Best Practices in Community Colleges

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The rapid growth of the STEM workforce has left out individuals with disabilities, according to reports by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pew Research Center, and Education Week. Community colleges play a critical role in the effort to broaden access in STEM education and careers to be inclusive of students and job seekers with disabilities. 

CAST, the education nonprofit organization that pioneered the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework, collaborated with the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (NSF ATE) community to develop a series of case studies documenting strategies for implementation of UDL and accessibility best practices in community and technical colleges. The NSF ATE Central grant, Advanced Technological Education: Making Community College Technician Education More Accessible for Everyone (AccessATE), provides grantees with the tools and knowledge to increase the accessibility and usability of their resources and activities. As a partner in this grant, CAST is providing technical assistance on accessibility and UDL for ATE Centers and ATE research grants.

UDL is a method for addressing learner variability by providing...

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Recommended Reading: Blogs About Being Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing

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A woman reads a blog on her laptop

Over the last year or so, AccessATE and DeafTEC have published a few pieces on accommodating deaf and hard-of-hearing (HH) employees. These have largely been broad overviews of topics like safety, communication, equipment, etc. However, there is much more information to consider, and many instances and stories to learn from if one wants to fully understand how to make deaf/HH people feel truly welcome in classrooms, labs, workplaces, and more. Of course, these stories are best told by deaf/HH people themselves. Here, we offer a few ‘recommended reading’ blogs about deafness and hearing loss, written by people who are deaf/HH.

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Making Reentry Easier for Veterans

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Encourage an environment of inclusion in your class or workplace

In our most recent tip sheet from AccessATE and HERL, we discussed the importance of fellowship in a military veteran’s transition to school, work, and civilian life, and some means by which they might go about forming a new community after service. Here, we will further discuss why the transition to civilian life can be so difficult, and how you as an educator or employer can help veterans feel more at home.

Tip Sheet: Working with Veterans: Fellowship

Many of us have heard that transitioning from military to civilian life can be very difficult for veterans, but we rarely are told why this is. While leaving the military itself can be intimidating, it is often the reintegration into regular society that poses the biggest challenge. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 44% of veterans report that reentry was or remains difficult. The study suggests that injuries, witnessing or experiencing traumatic events, and PTSD are among the biggest obstacles. These cause physical, emotional, and/or mental changes in the veterans who experience them, which in turn cause their experience of civilian life to be different than it was before they entered the military. Veterans may...

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PTSD in the Workplace

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PTSD can have many triggers, and cause many types of distress

In our recent tip sheet from AccessATE and HERL, we mention that veterans can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. This can have a major impact on their life and their jobs, but like all conditions we’ve discussed, it does not mean that they cannot perform their jobs to the same standard as their coworkers – it’s a simple matter of understanding and accommodation. Here, we will further discuss post-traumatic stress disorder, and how an employer might make adjustments for it in the workplace.

Tip Sheet: Working with Veterans: Support

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is defined as a mental health disorder that people may develop after experiencing or witnessing a shocking, scary, or life-threatening event, such as combat, a natural disaster, an accident, or assault. Such an event is often referred to as a “traumatic event” or a “trauma”. Anyone can develop PTSD, at any time. PTSD doesn’t always occur immediately after the traumatic event. PTSD can make it difficult to navigate daily life and/or to perform certain activities, or to be exposed to certain stimuli. Symptoms include, but are not exclusive to, unbidden, recurring memories of the traumatic event;...

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