Equity, Access, and Inclusion: A World Usability Day Event

young woman taking notes in classroom

The Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research (MAIER) joined the University of Maine Student Accessibility Office on “World Usability Day”, November 8, for a daylong free conference on creating environments that prioritize equity, access, and inclusion for all students. MAIER Director, Deborah Rooks-Ellis, Special Education faculty, Sarah Howorth, and MAIER graduate assistant, Brooklin Jones presented, “Breaking Down Barriers: Supporting Students with Autism at UMaine.”

MAIER’s presentation highlighted the growing trend of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) seeking postsecondary opportunities in greater numbers, which can present new challenges for professors and university programs. Instructors must now account for these students in their curriculum planning, classroom structure, and instructional supports.

The presentation began with sharing student perspectives, before moving to a discussion of classroom challenges and successes. The presenters focused on the concept of Evidence Based Practices (EBP) for students with ASD at the college level, including antecedent-based intervention, modeling, prompting, reinforcement, and self-management. The session concluded with opportunities for attendees to ask questions and share experiences, while MAIER presenters identified resources for additional information to support success for UM students with ASD.  This session was well attended and received, and helped raise awareness of MAIER as a resource for faculty and staff on campus.