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Must-Reads Part 1

As this is going to be an ever-growing process, I’d love for this post to be the first of many must-reads.

The texts that follow are texts that I believe are absolutely indispensable to professors working toward universal design in our classrooms.

Multi-modality in Motion not only models accessible webtext design, but it also is a collaborative text that unleashes the possibilities grown out of dis/ability studies perspectives in composition classrooms. The principles discussed and explored here, however, are not limited to writing classrooms.

Unspeakable offenses: Untangling race and disability in discourses of intersectionality“, by Nirmalla Erevelles, as well as her articles “These deadly times: Reconceptualizing school violence by using critical race theory and disability studies” and “Understanding curriculum as normalizing text: disability studies meet curriculum theory”, explore the intersections of curricular design, institutional policies, ableism, and racism in classroom practices; these theoretical groundings are crucial to building out genuinely accessible curricula and classroom experiences. (These articles are available by logging in through the CUNY Library system.)

“Promoting Diversity in the Universal: Rethinking Universal Design for Learning”, by Jill Sadowski, successfully argues that the “universality” of UDL — if it does not actively engage with the (in)visible whiteness behind “universality” and the injustices in the education system actively harming students of color — then the concept and praxis are diluted of their potential power. She argues effectively that “if UDL is to be useful as an accessibility tool, the framework’s reliance on diversity must be expanded to include the representation of different identities in the classroom” (3).

“Promoting Supportive Academic Environments for Faculty with Mental Illnesses: Resource Guide and Suggestions for Practice”, a resource guide from excellent scholars like Margaret Price and Stephanie Kerschbaum, explores the hostility of academic life to those of us faculty members with mental dis/abilities. They offer suggestions for reducing the hostility structurally while surviving and, indeed, thriving, individually.

“Broadening the Pathway to Academic Success: The Critical Intersections of Social Justice Education, Critical Multicultural Education, and Universal instructional Design”, by Heath W. Hackman, explores the ways that UDL practices that focus solely on structural access risk further marginalizing the needs of students of color, low-no income students, women students (and, I’d add, queer students) and various combinations thereof who certainly benefit from anti-ableist strategies but also suffer when these strategies uncritically assume straight, white, middle-class cis-maleness.

“Teaching with Trauma”, by Angela M. Carter, is a transformative text that offers a Feminist Dis/ability Studies Pedagogical perspective on trigger warnings, and the theoretical and practical classroom applications she lays out therein have tremendous implications for ensuring that anti-racist pedagogical practices are an intimate part of developing anti-ableist practices in our classrooms.

“The Bodymind Problem”, by Allison Hitt, takes readers on a journey through various dis/ability studies scholars’ work, and uses these works to explain the ways that our bodyminds are composed both of the structural and the individual (a crucial principle to understand when engaging in universal design projects).

Designing Collective Access: A Feminist Disability Theory of Universal Design, by


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