Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Class teaches students about disability

Every now and then, an innovative program pops up on a college curriculum that makes me sit up and take notice.

Such is the case of the new course being offered at the University of California Santa Cruz. The new
Course teaches UCSC students about disability.
This credit course offers students much more understanding than the typical disability awareness day or, at best, week usually offered up at colleges and universities.

According to the official UCSC web site:
“The University of California, Santa Cruz, is offering a new general education course on universal access and assistive technology, enabling students from all majors to learn more about disability and the issues that surround it.”

Did you notice "universal access" is part of the objective. Hooray for this great insight!

The professor for the class is Roberto Manduchi, an associate professor in computer engineering. Manduchi’s research has included work on assistive technology. The class will also feature guest lecturers in various aspects of the field: experts who study disability; professionals who work with people with disabilities; and some people who have disabilities themselves.

There is a quote from Manduchi on the site that really makes the course sound intriguing:
"There is some technology involved, because this is an engineering course. But mostly the emphasis is on understanding the physiology, psychology, and sociology of disability."

In addition to the class work, there will also be a project required of the students. This might include learning some American Sign Language or spending 24 hours with somebody with a disability.

It sounds like this is a computer engineering course on the surface, but in a deeper sense, this is a broader study of understanding disabilities.

Good work, UCSC!

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