Speaker comes to spark innovative thinking of universal design

The Division of Student Affairs is bringing a speaker to address improvements Ball State can make to the universal campus design for both those with and without disabilities to campus.

Sheryl Burgstahler, affiliate professor in the College of Education at the University of Washington, will talk to faculty, staff and students about universal design at 1:30 p.m. today in Cardinal Hall in L.A. Pittenger Student Center.

Burgstahler's focus of universal design include technology, learning activities, physical spaces and student services in educational settings. She is also the founder and director of the Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology Center and the Access Technology Center at UW. While ATC only affects the UW community, the DO-IT Center helps on an international level.

The two centers promote technology as a way to enhance the postsecondary education experience of students with disabilities and to develop facilities, computer labs, academic and administrative software, websites, multimedia and distance learning programs so they are easily accessible by students with disabilities.

Burgstahler also authored and co-authored eight books on the subject, and she was the head editor of the book "Universal Design in Higher Education: From Principles to Practice."

Katie Slabaugh, assistant to the vice president for Student Affairs, said Burgstahler's lecture could enhance the well known universal design program Ball State already has.

"With our history, we are already pretty much a front runner on adaptive technology," she said. "It is just better to be proactive and thoughtful and mindful of your [office]."

Larry Markle, director of Disabled Student Development, said Ball State currently has roughly 600 students that use some type of service from DSD. Ball State also has more than 40 wheelchair users on campus, which is more than double the amount at Purdue University and Indiana University.

Markle said Burgstahler's lecture will hopefully spark innovative thinking for students and faculty alike to better accommodate disabled students on campus.

"I think it is a good idea for everybody to just be able to think of and learn new ways we can serve students on campus with or without disabilities," he said. "Students can learn more about universal design and what is available [at Ball State]."


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