Journal of Teaching Disability Studies Publishes Third Issue

Portrait of young African-American man reading braille while studying in school library

The CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) is proud to announce that the third issue of the Journal of Teaching Disability Studies, a peer-reviewed journal edited by the CUNY SPS disability studies programs, has been published. Issue #3, along with all back issues, are available now on the CUNY Academic Commons website.  

“With our latest issue, the Journal of Teaching Disability Studies continues its tradition of providing a forum to explore the current pedagogical research, trends, concepts, and practices within the rapidly growing field of disability studies,” said Dr. Mariette Bates, former academic director of the CUNY SPS disability studies programs, who edited the journal. “Our third issue features a number of faculty from universities both near and far who share their reflections on bringing—or in some cases expanding—a disability studies framework to the classroom and campus, and I invite all those within the discipline to read their insightful articles.”

Contributors to the current issue include disability studies practitioners affiliated with colleges and universities throughout the northeast, including CUNY SPS and several other CUNY schools, as well as international contributors from Canada and Iraq.

The articles focus primarily on the authors’ pedagogical experiments at their schools, which include incorporating diversity concepts into a disability studies curriculum, examining the impact of an introductory disability studies course, exploring physical accessibility on campus, revamping a graduate education course with a disability studies perspective, and reporting on a colloquium on ableism in Kurdistan-Iraq.

To anticipate the third issue’s launch, the CUNY SPS disability studies program hosted the online event “JTDS - An Insider's Look at the New Issue” in Spring 2022. During this talk and Q&A, guided by Dr. Bates and Matthew Conlin, managing journal editor and adjunct faculty member at CUNY SPS, several authors from the latest issue spoke about their articles and contributions to the field of disabilities studies.

April Coughlin, an alum from the CUNY SPS disability studies program and assistant professor at the Department of Teaching & Learning at SUNY New Paltz, along with Kimberly Sanford, teacher candidate at the School of Education at SUNY New Paltz, discussed the article they co-authored entitled “Expanding Access to Disability Studies: Reflections from Both Sides of the Classroom.”

In their presentation, Coughlin and Sanford looked back on the process by which they developed an introductory disability studies course at SUNY New Paltz and explored how a disability studies framework could be applied across disciplines.

At the end of their talk, they reiterated the need for accessibility in the educational sphere. “[W]e should challenge the notion that making spaces and curriculum accessible is more work,” Sanford concluded. “It is our obligation as educators to make our physical educational learning spaces and our curriculum materials and activities available to all students…And anything short of that is neglecting the needs and voices of students who have the right to participate in our learning environment.”

Next, Patrick Flink and Timothy J. Leonard, both associate professors in the Dept. of Academic Literacy & Linguistics at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, presented on their JTDS article “Learning Walks and Universal Design: Assessing Physical Accessibility at a Community College.”

In their talk, Flink and Leonard described how they conducted a review of physical space at BMCC by going on learning walks together to assess how principles of universal design was applied (or not) to the campus’s shared spaces.

Echoing Sanford, Leonard also argued that accessibility should be a top consideration for any school. As he explained while discussing the motivation for their survey, “[W]e wanted to be able to raise awareness, shine a light, but also use [our assessment] as a point of reflection campus-wide and, in terms of accessibility, explore how organizations conduct similar studies in order to look at what is happening in the spaces around them as well.”

He continued, “I think it is important…that we take that time to be very mindful around ourselves, [which] sometimes we take for granted. To slow down and … think about access, not only how it applies to certain elements and classroom experiences, but with physical spaces that students see the moment they enter the campus.”

About Disability Studies at the CUNY School of Professional Studies

Disability Studies is an emerging academic field that explores disability from multiple perspectives, including the social sciences, humanities, science, and the law. CUNY SPS offers groundbreaking, fully accredited online degree and certificate programs within Disability Studies including the BA in Disability Studies, MA in Disability Studies, MS in Disability Services in Higher Education, Advanced Certificate in Disability Studies, and Advanced Certificate in Disability Services in Higher Education.

About the CUNY School of Professional Studies

As New York’s leader in online education since 2006, the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) offers the most online bachelor’s and master’s degree options at the City University of New York, and serves as the University’s only undergraduate all-transfer college. With 26 degrees and numerous other non-degree and grant-funded workplace learning programs, CUNY SPS meets the needs of adults who wish to finish a bachelor’s degree, progress from an associate’s degree, earn a master’s degree or certificate in a specialized field, and advance in the workplace or change careers. Consistently ranked highly by U.S. News & World Report for its online offerings, and noted for its soaring growth and enrollment, CUNY SPS has emerged as a nationwide leader in online education. The School’s renowned and affordable online programs—which offer in-state tuition to all students regardless of where they live—ensure that busy working adults may fulfill their educational goals on their own time and schedule.

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