Creating Inclusive Learning Opportunities in Higher Education

Creating Inclusive Learning Opportunities in Higher Education A Universal Design Toolkit

Sheryl E. Burgstahler, Foreword by Ana Mari Cauce
paper, 248 Pages
Pub. Date: December 2020
ISBN-13: 978-1-68253-540-0
Price: $33.00

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cloth, 248 Pages
Pub. Date: December 2020
ISBN-13: 978-1-68253-541-7
Price: $62.00

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In Creating Inclusive Learning Opportunities in Higher Education, Sheryl Burgstahler provides a practical, step-by-step guide for putting the principles of universal design into action. The book offers multiple ways to access, engage with, and transform the higher education environment: making physical spaces welcoming to students of all abilities; creating digital learning and assistive technology programs that meet the needs of all users; developing universal design in higher education (UDHE) syllabi, assessments and teaching practices that minimize the need for academic accommodations; and institutionalizing universal design supports and services.


Sheryl Burgstahler offers a practical, step-by-step guide to put the principles of universal design to work in higher education. Foregrounding her discussion in the need for systemic change in order to dismantle institutional inequities, Burgstahler shares strategies instructors can offer all students in their classes to avoid access barriers and build a more inclusive campus. — Amanda Irvin, director of Faculty Programs and Services, Columbia University Center for Teaching and Learning

Creating Inclusive Learning Opportunities in Higher Education provides a compelling rationale for the importance of introducing students to universal design, provides actionable insights on how to teach accessibly, and explores how to create atmospheres for inclusion within our campus environments. A must-read for those in higher education. — Julian Brinkley, assistant professor, Human-Centered Computing, Clemson University

Sheryl Burgstahler’s passion for inclusion is grounded in personal, academic, and professional experiences. She provides an opportunity for the reader to ‘Take Action’ by reflecting, learning, and applying new concepts. This book is an excellent mixture of practical examples and useful strategies for administrators and faculty who strive to make their college campus more inclusive, diverse and universally designed! — Margo Izzo, professor emeritus, The Ohio State University

While this excellent book focuses on practical steps to provide inclusive environments in higher education, Burgstahler’s recommendations are relevant and applicable to the broader community as well. — Valerie Taylor, chief executive officer and president, Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in IT

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About the Author

I was born and raised in Seattle. My brother and I shared memorable times on my dad’s used car lot, which to us was a large extension of our front yard, well positioned on a busy street. I learned from a young age what a family business was all about. As a little girl, even I had a job sorting nails, screws, bolts, and washers into little glass jars; the mechanics praised me and now I know why—who wants to sort nails, screws, bolts, and washers into little glass jars? Doing things that need to be done and that others do not want to do has been an asset in my career. I learned other lessons from my dad—don’t try to sell something to people until you know what they’re looking for and they trust you; build your business on return customers (at the time I didn’t know these were not characteristics of a stereotypical used car dealer)—that apply to my career as well. In selling an idea, like Universal Design in Higher Education (UDHE), we need to tailor the message to the audience and provide trusted resources for continued support and future growth.

I earned a master’s degree in mathematics and education. I have been a teacher and administrator in a mix of settings, taught various topics to students, and worked at multiple educational levels—high school and college courses at a military installation in South Korea for the Department of Defense; mathematics in middle and high school; and computer programming, mathematics, teacher training, educational applications of technology, and disability studies at college and university levels. I earned my PhD in policy, governance, and administration of higher education with a focus on access and use of computer technology by postsecondary students with disabilities.

In 1984 I left a faculty position at St. Martin’s College to manage the new Microcomputer Support Group at the University of Washington (UW). My group was charged with helping faculty, staff, and students gain access to and effectively use desktop computers. After I grew that group into the comprehensive Desktop Computing Services, in 1992 the leader of IT at the UW presented me with a challenge—to “dabble” in grant writing to secure funds to demonstrate the value of technology, especially in K–12 schools. I took the challenge. My dabbling has brought in consistent funding, mostly from the National Science Foundation and US Department of Education, and led to the founding of the DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) Center. Our projects have demonstrated transformative changes in the lives of people with disabilities once technology access and other interventions are employed and how institutions can create inclusive offerings. Outcomes from our projects have earned many awards, including the Professional Recognition Award for the Association on Higher Education and Disability, the National Information Infrastructure Award in Education, the President’s Award for Mentoring, the Golden Apple Award in Education, the Harry J. Murphy Catalyst Award, the Economic Opportunity Award, the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame, a featured program of the Council for Exceptional Children, and the Diversity in Technology Leadership Award from the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity. Most of my research, publications, teaching, and presentations focus on the successful transition of students with disabilities to college, graduate school, and careers and on the application of UDHE to technology and learning activities.

I live in Seattle with my husband, Dave, who is an accounting professor at the UW. Our son, Travis, and his family live nearby. We all enjoy hanging out with family and friends at our beach house on Hood Canal and taking on fun projects that include a kid retreat in the attic, a tree house, a man-made sandy beach, and the relocation of my childhood playhouse from my parents’ home in Seattle to the Canal. My motto—if the kids are happy, everybody’s happy!

Table of Contents



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