Amy Vidali talk and workshop on 9/21 and 9/22: inclusive pedagogy and disability

Amy Vidali, Associate Professor at the University of Colorado Denver, will be visiting UD September 21 and 22. During her time here, she will pick up on conversations begun last year with Jay Dolmage’s visit, including conversations about inclusive pedagogy and disability as an important form of diversity among our students and colleagues.

Vidali’s talk will be Monday, September 21 from 5-6:15 p.m. in 127 Memorial.

Access and Absence: Writing Disability for Higher Education

In this talk, the speaker argues that we must pay more attention to the texts that provide or deny access to higher education, and how these textual access points function for disabled people. The speaker adapts the experience and metaphor of physical accessibility on campus to consider the textual terrain structured by policies and documents, in order to shift the discussion from including disability on campus to recognizing those who never make it to campus. The talk centers on a single textual access point, the college admissions essay, where difference and disability often feature in complex and contradictory ways. The speaker considers the admissions essay of a graduate student with repetitive stress injury which falsely positions disability as only-in-the-past and negates both disability and future accommodations requests. She compares this approach to an undergraduate essay where a student with cerebral palsy displays fierce disability pride and is rejected, then admitted on appeal with a more staid, predictable appeal essay. Placing these two essays in conversation, the speaker identifies how adopting stereotypical tropes of disability helps disabled applicants “get in” and perpetuates damaging understandings of disability in higher education. She argues that this same tension is at play in disclosure decisions when applying for faculty positions and tenure, seeking jobs outside higher education, and making simple textual disclosures between friends and family.

Vidali’s workshop will be Tuesday, September 22 from 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. in the Rollins Room of Jastak-Burgess Hall.

Teaching Styles and Strategies for Disability Inclusion

This workshop offers tangible teaching styles and strategies to create and revitalize inclusive learning environments for disabled college students and all college students. Whether you’re new to universal design or looking for fresh approaches, this workshop provides strategies to put to work right away, from rethinking your disability/access statement on your syllabus and revising writing assignments to encouraging interdependence and questioning the ways your own learning preferences shape and bias the learning environments you create. This workshop is for all faculty and is not focused on disability studies curricula, and participants will leave with a packet they can revisit. The facilitator is a faculty member and disability activist who is both invested and critical of current strategies for including disabled students in college classrooms, and faculty will be invited to share their ideas and experiences. The facilitator asks that you refrain from wearing strong scents to the workshop.

BIO: Amy Vidali is an associate professor of English at the University of Colorado Denver. Her research focuses on the rhetorical politics of disability in university texts, as well as theories of metaphor, gastrointestinal rhetorics, and stuttering. She teaches classes on rhetorical theory, multimedia writing, disability studies, and the teaching of composition. Her work has appeared in College English, Rhetoric Review, The Journal of Medical Humanities, The Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, Disability Studies Quarterly (DSQ), the Bedford St. Martin’s Guide to Disability and the Teaching of Writing, and elsewhere. She is currently working on a book manuscript tentatively entitled Writing for Access: Disability and Textual Terrain of Higher Education.


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