Monday, March 29, 2010

March 25, 2010 Meeting Notes

Disability Studies at UW: What is it, How did it Develop, and What We Hope To Do?

Dennis Lang, Associate Director, Disability Studies
  • The Disability Studies program is a multi-campus, interdisciplinary program exploring society's understanding of disability
    • Web site is at
    • Inspired in part by the Society for Disability Studies
    • Topics studied include "the cultural construct of disability, social justice, and disability policy, and the intersections of disability, race, gender, sex, age, class and other markers of diversity and difference."
      • Social justice
      • Policy
      • Law, society, and justice
      • Comparative ideas
      • Dance
      • Business
    • Currently, Disability Studies offers two courses of study:
      • Disability Studies Minor
      • Individualized Studies Major in Disability Studies
    • The program has recently received a limited amount of permanent funding.
    • Faculty participating in the program are from many departments
      • Rehabilitation Medicine, Law, Slavic Languages and Literature, American Sign Language, Philosophy, Social Work, Education, Civil and Environmental Engineering, History, Comparative History of Ideas (CHID)
    • Currently has about 20 students a quarter
  • Disability Studies is currently exploring moving their Web site to Drupal
    • Hoping for easier site management, accessible design, and tools that will help build social connections
    • Discussion:
      • Drupal out-of-the-box is very standards compliant and thus generally starts out as reasonably accessible and intelligible to assistive technologies
        • However, it is easy to add modules or make modifications that interfere with accessibility
      • Drupal offers many modules supporting social interactions, such as new feed generators and news feed readers. You can weave interconnections with other sites that go beyond simple links.
      • Drupal does require management. Security updates come out regularly. The site manager is informed about the updates and it is wise to install them.
      • Drupal has a customization system based on "intercept and override" where the default site settings and configurations are intercepted and overridden by customizations, leaving the core installation unmodified. This approaches allows core installation updates without disturbing the customizations (usually).
      • A large number of themes are available. They are installed by placing them in specific subdirectories and then selecting them from the administrator menus
      • The Zen theme ( is a very standards-compliant Drupal them that is well documented and flexible
  • The UW Standing Committee on Disability Issues is being rejuvenated. Dennis is looking for people who are interested in serving on the committee. Contact him at 206-522-3104 or for more information.
  • Sushil K. Oswal, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Technical Communication in the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Program at UW Tacoma is interested in studying the topic of accessibility. Anyone interested in working with him can contact him at 253-692-4308 or