Teaching Towards Access Reading Group

Are all students able to access the learning that happens in our classes? What would it mean to, as the Accessibility Education Center says, be “informed by and responsive to the diverse characteristics and experiences of students with disabilities and variations of ability”?  

The Teaching Towards Access Reading Group invites you to explore questions around designing for access and belonging. We will read and discuss articles, book excerpts and podcasts, and discussions will provide an opportunity to approach issues around disability and access with curiosity and care, and as co-learners. All UO community members welcome. Feel free to join us every week, or to just drop in for selected conversations. Our first meeting will discuss the new Practitioner Guide: Accessibility, which centers UO student voices. 

Below, please find details about joining us, information about readings, and introductions to the facilitators.

Practical Details

When: Thursdays from 11:00--11:50AM during Winter 2022

Where: Hosted on Zoom 

Who: you, hopefully (all UO community members welcome, including students), and UOO and TEP facilitators Marla Wirrick and Laurel Bastian.

What texts: We will start this series on January 6th with the new Practitioner Guide: Access. We are excited to explore both academic articles (listed below) and selected excerpts from The Inclusive Design Guide, the Inclusive Learning Design Handbook, and Inclusive Spectrums (written primarily by students).

Please consider joining us, and please contact lbastian@uoregon.edu with any questions.


Part of inclusive and accessible learning is collaboration; participant interest will guide our reading selections. During our first several sessions, we will invite participant what your interests, goals, questions, or favored resources, and will use that input to guide the remainder of our readings. 

We encourage people to come at the level of preparation and presence that works for you. If you’re interested in attending and were not able to complete the readings for whatever reason, please do still attend. Our goal in coming together is to learn through discussion.  

Date Topic Readings
Jan 6 What do UO students say about accessibility? 
Jan 13 What does “disability” mean in our contexts? 
Jan 20 What do “inclusion” and “access” mean in our contexts? 
Jan 27 What is “Universal Design for Learning” in higher education, and what are some examples of it?  
Feb 3 Since every course now uses Canvas, and many courses have multiple web-based components, how do we think about "digital accessibility”? 
Feb 10 How do disability, usability, and Universal Design fit together? How can we better understand Universal Design and UDL as verbs? How can critiques of Universal Design and UDL inform our practice?
  • Academic Ableism: Disability and Higher Education, Chapter 4: Universal Design
    • pages 129-139 (in case pages are different, this is "Critiquing Usability and Universal Design" through "Interest Convergence") and 
    • 145-151 ("Checklistification and Neurorhetorics")
Feb 24 How might common teaching practices impact neurodivergent learners, including learners with ADHD? What are some of the strengths that learners with ADHD bring to higher ed? How can we design in ways that support the success of ADHD learners?
  • "Supporting ADHD Learners," an episode of the podcast Teaching in Higher Ed. The episode features the awesome Karen Costa, who is an instructor, ID, author, a leader in trauma-informed pedagogy, and who identifies as having ADHD.
Mar 3 What are some of the barriers that neurodivergent people (students, staff, and faculty) face in higher ed? What system-wide changes would remove or subvert these barriers to support neurodivergent people?
Mar 10 What are students experiencing, and what trends do we see? How can faculty support students within their teaching role? How can faculty balance their own mental health needs and with responsiveness to students? 



Introductions to facilitators

We are choosing to include several-sentence bios here as intersecting identities and interests influence how we come into community. Here are several sentences about each of us; we hope to meet you.

Laurel Bastian is a Faculty Consultant with the Teaching Engagement Program. Prior to coming to UO, she taught writing and communications courses for a decade as a Senior Instructor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She identifies as someone with disabilities. In her first experience as an undergraduate, she dropped out after a year in large part because of access issues, returning ten years later. She is excited to learn more with others about access, disability, strategies like UDL and Inclusive Design, disability justice, and making UO courses ones all students can thrive in.

Marla Wirrick is an Instructional Designer with UO Online. Her previous work adapting in-person classes to online courses has given Marla an appreciation for the importance of accessibility, engagement, and inclusion in online learning. How we craft educational materials and the online experience to best serve everyone, regardless of circumstance, is what drives Marla’s interest in access and accessibility.