Hello readers! Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog. I’m an Instructional Designer with the University of Maryland’s Learning Technology Design group in the Division of Information Technology. My area of specialty is Accessible and Personalized Learning.
I was awarded a Global Partnerships Staff Travel Grant to visit the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Academic Development in February 2017, based on my proposal entitled “Sharing Best Practices in Accessible and Inclusive Learning Between the University of Maryland and University of Edinburgh. With this blog, I hope to share my experience before, during, and after this trip.
Many thanks to the University of Maryland’s Office of International Affairs for offering this Grant program and providing such a wonderful opportunity for collaboration with other institutions, the Division of Information Technology, and to my colleagues across campus for supporting me in this adventure.
I first became interested in issues of accessibility and inclusive learning many years ago when I left my job in the publishing field to go to graduate school and then try my hand as a middle school Special Education teacher. After 5 years, I felt classroom teaching was just not a good fit for me personally. (Anyone who has taught for more than 5 years has my undying respect!) But that experience gave me a firsthand look at the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities or different learning styles. One of my daily tasks was to work with the general education teachers to modify their instruction and assignments to meet the needs of those students with identified disabilities. What quickly began to happen was that — without knowing it — I began lobbying for Universal Design. Because of course if the instruction was made accessible to everyone at its creation, there would be no need to modify it later. And it would be accessible to every student, regardless of whether they had been through the process of being formally identified as having a disability.
Working with these other teachers and professionals then led me to a roundabout way of getting to higher education, and to the University of Maryland, which is where I have been since 2007. I’ve had a few different job titles while I’ve been here, but have always incorporated my understanding of the diversity of learners’ needs along the way. Focusing on this area now, and having the opportunity to share what we’re doing here and learn from international colleagues is both exciting and inspiring. Thanks for reading my story!