A Pedagogy of Access grew out of my experience in Lauren Obermark’s Teaching College Writing course at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. (Indeed, it additionally serves as my final research project for the class.) Over the course of the Spring 2015 semester, I engaged with a variety of pedagogical theories, taking particular interests in feminism and Disability Studies. Primarily, I found myself struggling to reconcile my desire to construct an all-inclusive classroom with the stark limitations of reality. The research I conducted whilst working on this project reflects this quandary, the ultimate inability to develop a utopian educational environment where every student achieves the amount of access they require.
Though there are many identities that have been marginalized or excluded from the university setting, I have chosen to approach these issues from a Disability Studies perspective. The Universal Design for Learning paradigm developed within this discipline, though created with disabled students in mind, possesses the potential to assist the greatest amount of individuals possible, thanks to its emphasis upon accessibility. This means that regardless of the ability, gender, socioeconomic standing, race/ethnicity, or sexuality of one’s students (or of oneself), an instructor can develop a pedagogy that attempts to provide access for everyone.
A Pedagogy of Access, then, reflects my deep engagement with these concerns and the conflicts that inevitably arise from them. It serves as both a “working out” of these issues for myself as I develop my own personal pedagogical theories and practices, as well as a potential resource for other like-minded or interested composition instructors and professionals looking for further information on UDL and its implementation in the classroom. I encourage all readers to conduct their own research on the topic and consider how they might construct reading and writing assignments, syllabus disability access statements, and inclusive classroom environments.
Any accessibility issues the readers experience as they navigate the website are the result of my own limited understanding of technology, and I take full responsibility for these flaws. However, I believe the website also reflects my attempts at self-improvement and my desire to create a text that can be widely read.
Note on the author:
Liz Miller is a Master’s student at UMSL currently enrolled in the English and Gender Studies programs. Additionally, she is involved in the Certificate for University Teaching offered by the university.
Any questions, comments, or suggestions can be directed to her campus email address or placed within the comments below.