April 2, 2001
New position website
By Eric Rangus email@example.com
While Emory has policies and procedures to assist students with physical and other disabilities, students with learning disabilities have been more difficult to accommodate because the challenges they face are more subtle.
Thats where Wendy Newby comes in. In September, Newby was hired
as the first director of faculty resources for disabilities, a position
intended to provide faculty with information about disabilities, the law
and its application to higher education, as well as best instructional
practices for students with (and without) disabilities.
Im trying to move the nature of what Im doing away
from [being] strictly about students with disabilities and extend it to
all students who are diverse learners, Newby said. All of
us learn differently. A faculty member has a natural way of teaching.
And it may be very effective for most students using this natural approach,
but there may be some students who will benefit from some alternative
Newby is associated with the Center for Teaching and Curriculum, and
her position is supported by both Emory College and the University Advisory
Council on Teaching.
Newby said faculty requested her position be created because they wanted
someone to serve as a guide in dealing with students with disabilities.
Were getting an increasing number of students who have learning
issues related to disabilities or other kinds of instructional needs as
a result of problems adjusting to college levels of instruction,
Newby said. More than 400 Emory students, in fact, have documented disabilities.
She noted many states define a learning disability as a discrepancy
between IQ and achievement. Most often, learning disabilities are
identified in childhood and students have compensated for them. By
virtue of their being here [at Emory], this means they have been successful
students, Newby said.
Her role is to assist faculty members if they are having problems reaching
certain students. One of the ways Newby is trying to reach out to the
Emory community is through her website, which she calls Portals
and Pathways to Inclusive Instruction(www.portals.emory.edu).
Newby began work on the site shortly after coming to Emory, and it was
posted in mid-February. An in-depth description not only of Newbys
work and responsibilities but of disabilities in general, Portals
has the potential to be a major resource of information on the subject.
Through its many links, the site defines various types of disabilities,
lists information for instructors and students (including a comprehensive
FAQ), provides an overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and
lists other campus resources for students with disabilities.
This whole business of marketing my services to faculty is kind
of foreign to me as a psychologist, but Im learning, said
Newby, who worked as a clinical assistant professor at North Carolina
State for 18 years prior to joining the Emory staff.
Its hard in this position to know how and when to approach
faculty, she continued. Ive tried a number of different
techniques to get to them. Going to meetings where faculty discuss issues
related to instruction and developing the website are two of them.
The website also took into account disabled users and how they may be
using the site. We did several things to accommodate all users,
said ITDs Shannon ODaniel, who, along with Marianne Schneider,
worked with Newby to create the site.
For instance, we created sites with alt tagstext that takes
the place of images if graphics are turned off or for voice recognition
enabled browsers, ODaniel said.
Newby said she will continue adding information to the site. Right now,
she is collecting disability-friendly syllabi from faculty, seeking to
find the most informative and easy-to-use example. She will award a $100
gift certificate to Druid Hills Bookstore for the most complete and well-organized
submission. A color-sensitive graphic advertising the competition is located
on the center of the sites index page.
While all of Emorys schools have students with learning disabilities,
Newbys role is primarily with the college. Each professional school
offers services to students with learning disabilities, but activities
and resources are not coordinated. Newby hopes to change that.
Faculty dont always know what to do, where to go, or even whats here. Linking [Emorys services] is going to be a major goal next year, Newby said. She hopes to come up with a plan by May.