Podcast sheds light on open education and accessibility in higher ed
Dr. Dietmar Kennepohl joins fellow teaching-award winner and students with disabilities to discuss ableism in universities
Athabasca University professor and 3M National Teaching Fellow award winner Dr. Dietmar Kennepohl was a guest on the podcast Shifting Conversations: Dialogue and Change in Higher Education for an episode examining ableism in universities. He joined Ann Braithwaite, also a 2021 3M National Teaching Fellow, and 2 students with disabilities for a wide-ranging discussion about how ableism structures the university, and what that looks like from the perspective of a student with disabilities.
This is especially topical as many universities transition back to face-to-face learning after having to adapt to online learning for 2 years as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
“People have now been exposed to having to do things in a different way. There are people who have done very creative things in teaching and learning, accommodating people, and making things work,” Kennepohl said. “There are others who are ready to go back to face to face and ignore everything else.”
While students at some universities struggle to find appropriate accommodations, even with the support of their respective accessibility services offices, Kennepohl spoke about how eliminating barriers can benefit all students, and not just those with specific disabilities.
“My experience with UDL (universal design for learning) in the online world, and all the efforts toward universal design—and I hope this is true in the physical classroom as well—is that these changes are good for everybody,” he said. “A lot of people benefit.”