Melanie Thompson, Director of Learning Assistance Programs and Disability Support Services at Southeast Missouri State University, is one of 25 people nationally selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Education grant program titled “Project ShIFT.” Project ShIFT (Shaping Inclusion through Foundational Transformation) will build upon groundwork laid by previously funded grants to demonstrate a model that offers sustainability in institutional change by addressing underlying systems and campus-wide conceptualizations of disability.
An initial emphasis through Project ShIFT will be on creating progressive philosophical constructs of disability within the Disability Support Services office, which will lead to uncovering and correcting negative messages that are transferred to faculty and staff, with an end goal of incorporating concepts of universal design (UD) within classrooms and across campus. By the end of the grant cycle, the Disability Support Services staff hope to serve as leaders for faculty in the redesign of curriculum and the use of UD instructional strategies.
Project ShIFT consists of three Summer Institutes (2009-2011) that will provide resources and professional development activities for higher education professionals. In Year I, which started August 2009, Ms. Thompson and other higher education professionals examined policies and practices of their offices and discussed how to infuse a social construction of disability and UD into their operations. In Year II, Ms. Thompson will invite one faculty member to accompany her back to the Institute where they will work together to create curriculum and teaching strategies that infuse new conceptualizations of disability and UD into classrooms and coursework. In Year III, emphasis for all participants will be on summarizing, documenting, and sustaining successful changes at their institutions, and in increasing institutional capacity with UD.
As Southeast’s involvement with the project deepens, updates will be included here, on the Disability Support Services web site. For more information on the grant project, please check out this link: http://www.lanecc.edu/disability/documents/grantabstract.pdf