New Minor available in disability studies

Sarah Taylor, Staff Reporter

Universities across the country—including CWU—have created a new program to allow college students to earn certificates and minors in disability and accessibility studies. According to the U.S. 2010 Census Bureau Report, nearly 1 in 5 people have a disability. The average classroom size at CWU is 26 students. Statistically, five people in that classroom have a disability. With a university enrollment of 11,982, roughly 2,396 students who attend CWU have a disability.

Disability studies is an area of academia where students can learn about how disabilities have been defined and viewed over time, how to value perspectives of people with disabilities, understand disability in contemporary culture and appreciate disability related to the arts.

MLA, the Modern Language Association, classified disability studies as a division of study in 2005. Students can earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in this division, as well as certificates. Universities supporting this degree include the University of Utah, Ohio State University, and the University of Vermont. CWU now offers a similar degree opportunity.

Said accessibility studies allows students the opportunity to learn about different approaches and accommodations to functioning in a daily environment.

Accessibility Studies Professor Naomi Petersen. “We want all environments to be designed for maximum functionality for maximum participation.”

CWU is offering a 20-credit minor and a 10-week certificate course in accessibility studies. The minor includes courses such as Accessibility and User Experience, Universal Design, Accessible Information Design and Accessibility Studies Capstone. The minor and certificate will be available at CWU this spring.

Both are aimed to enhance awareness and diversity amongst all communities. These degrees are intended to be earned in conjunction with other pre-professional degrees, such as Business Administration, Human Resource Management, Supply Chain Management, Marketing or Public Policy.

Computer science major Angie Quach believes this degree opportunity gives students the ability to help people with disabilities.

“I would consider getting this minor if I was looking to engineer software that would help satisfy special needs for people who are disabled,” Quach said.