As a member of the Learning Alliance at Drexel, I have been exposed to the concept of Universal Design. The Learning Alliance is a network of departments that support students’ academic success, and includes the ODR, counseling, and tutoring services. The former director of the ODR was a huge supporter of Universal Design and advocated for its use in tutor training and online learning. I am grateful for the reading from Week 5 as I feel much more knowledgeable about ADA, the ODR’s resources, and student with disabilities in general. I think Universal Design should be implemented across the board, in not only the curriculum but in administrative web forms. I think it is easy to overlook the concepts of Universal Design when implementing new programming. I will definitely keep that in mind going forward when creating and conducting tutor training. It makes me wonder if the lack of accessibility is keeping bright students with disabilities from either applying to be a tutor or coming to tutoring. The issue goes even beyond tutoring, especially as I think about the engineering curriculum itself and how many of the course directors do not use Blackboard at all. I am well aware of a common sentiment among faculty, that certain courses "weed out" students, but I wonder if students with disabilities have been negatively affected by that mentality. I will bring this up with my supervisor at my next meeting.
Already the course project on first-generation students is becoming relevant to my job. At a Learning Alliance meeting, we were introduced to a new program for first-generation students, faculty, and staff that we were asked to promote and participate in. I was able to contribute to the discussion because of my new knowledge of other institutions’ services and resources for first generation students. I think that this new interest in creating a safe space for dialogue and discussion about first-generation experiences is the start of what could be an actual center or program like Cornell. I brought that up with the VP for Student Affairs and she seemed hopeful about that happening down the line. I am excited for the second half of the project because I think I will be able to share the resources with the staff who are working on the first-gen project.