posted on November 05, 2012 11:45
Book by Wendy S. Harbour & Joseph W. Madaus
Review by Steven J. Brady
First Year of Studies
University of Notre Dame
In his essay on Disability Studies in this volume, Steven J. Taylor notes that “disability is part of the human condition, and will touch practically all students directly or indirectly at some time in their lives” (pp. 95-96). The nexus between this reality and the growth of the disabled population in American higher education is the focus of this quite useful collection of essays. The academic advisor who reads this book will come away with a better understanding of disability services on college and university campuses and perhaps a more nuanced view of the very idea of disability among the student population itself.
Disability on college campuses is not a new thing, as Joseph Madaus reminds us in the book’s first chapter. However, Disability Services (DS) has only become an “established profession” (p. 13) over the course of the last 25 years. Just in time, since the growth of the population of students with disabilities has been significant during that time period: those with disabilities now make up approximately 11% of the total student population.
Essays in this book encourage the reader to view students with disabilities as a diverse group and to include disability as an element in “campus conversations about diversity” (p. 33). Advisors may profit from Rebecca C. Cory’s enjoinder in chapter three to strive to view disability in its cultural context, instead of viewing it strictly as a property of the student with the disability. This will allow, she notes, for a focus upon systemic, rather than individual, solutions to campus issues. After all, adds Dave Edyburn, “academic diversity is a characteristic, not a flaw, of every classroom” (p. 38).
The book may thus cause readers to rethink their views on disability. But it also provides more pragmatic aid. Advisors may especially benefit from chapters on the resources available at campus disability services offices (chapter 3), and collaboration strategies to aid student transition (chapter 2). The former, in particular, provides information helpful in understanding the current state of the accommodation process, the “emergent populations” of students with disabilities (including those with autism-spectrum disabilities), and the concept of Universal Design (UD) of environments as a path to accessibility. These are issues which advisors either face now or will likely face in the near future. Some familiarity with them can only be for the good. It is also helpful to be reminded of such facts as that technology is not always a path to access for disabled students; sometimes it can be a barrier.
Disability Services and Campus Dynamics introduces readers to the new issues emerging in DS, and to what DS has to offer students and the higher education community. Its main limitation is that it is just this—an introduction. But this is its goal. And in this, it succeeds admirably.
Disability and Campus Dynamics (New Directions for Higher Education #154). (2011) Book by Wendy S. Harbour & Joseph W. Madaus (Eds.). Review by Steven Brady. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 105 pp., $29.00. ISBN # 978-1-1181-3402-3