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Autumn Wilke

Apr 15, 2022

A Conversation with Autumn Wilke about Disability in Higher Education

New Books Network 2022

Today I talked to Autumn Wilke of Grinnell College about her book (co-authored with Nancy J. Evans, Ellen M. Broido, and Kirsten R. Brown) Disability in Higher Education: A Social Justice Approach (Jossey-Bass, 2017).

Disability in Higher Education examines how disability is conceptualized in higher education and ways in which students, faculty, and staff with disabilities are viewed and served on college campuses. Drawing on multiple theoretical frameworks, research, and experience creating inclusive campuses, this text offers a new framework for understanding disability using a social justice lens. Many institutions focus solely on legal access and accommodation, enabling a system of exclusion and oppression. However, using principles of universal design, social justice, and other inclusive practices, campus environments can be transformed into more inclusive and equitable settings for all constituents.

The authors consider the experiences of students, faculty, and staff with disabilities and offer strategies for addressing ableism within a variety of settings, including classrooms, residence halls, admissions and orientation, student organizations, career development, and counseling. They also expand traditional student affairs understandings of disability issues by including chapters on technology, law, theory, and disability services. Using social justice principles, the discussion spans the entire college experience of individuals with disabilities, and avoids any single-issue focus such as physical accessibility or classroom accommodations.

The book will help readers:

  • Consider issues in addition to access and accommodation
  • Use principles of universal design to benefit students and employees in academic, cocurricular, and employment settings
  • Understand how disability interacts with multiple aspects of identity and experience.

Despite their best intentions, college personnel frequently approach disability from the singular perspective of access to the exclusion of other important issues. This book provides strategies for addressing ableism in the assumptions, policies and practices, organizational structures, attitudes, and physical structures of higher education.

Marshall Poe is the founder and editor of the New Books Network. He can be reached at marshallpoe@newbooksnetwork.com.

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Marshall Poe

Marshall Poe is the founder and editor of the New Books Network. He can be reached at marshallpoe@newbooksnetwork.com.

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