Our CUNY Unlimited FIG’s meeting of Fall 2019 took place on October 7th, and brought out eight people for a lively discussion and chance to meet other interested in enhancing inclusive education for students with intellectual and other disabilities. Our substantial experience and expertise in this work was evident among those who attended! I came away feeling that together we have quite a bit of experience with this work and excellent ideas for pushing it further.
Sam Patrick, the new Community Support Supervisor for the Melissa Riggio Program at KCC introduced himself and distributed Faculty Handbooks for the Melissa Riggio program that provide a nice overview of the program. Carol and Lisa shared a little bit about their experiences including students from Melissa Riggio in the past. As faculty, we will continue to share with our colleagues the positive benefits that come to our classes by including students with intellectual disabilities, not to mention to the students who are included.
Sam also shared an updated Melissa Riggio Video with Presidents of both the College of Staten Island and Hostos Community College talking about their experiences with the program, the first link below. Another inspiring Melissa Riggio video that students seem to enjoy is linked below. It is great because we see the mentors and students with Intellectual Disability interacting, which shows the power of the “social model” of disability under which we are working. Feel free to share this with students to let them know the opportunities KCC is helping to create with Melissa Riggio.
Lisa shared about a digital webinar she took over the summer through CATS (housed at Queensboro CC) about creating accessible syllabi, and it was mentioned that Peter Santiago and Tsubasa Berg can provide faculty with helpful advice in creating accessible course materials through Blackboard and other methods. Cecelia highlighted for us the importance of thinking about transitions from high school to higher education and careers for students with disabilities, which really helped to frame the importance of the work we are doing. Don shared many excellent ideas he has for connecting his department’s work and jobs like recreation therapy, culinary arts, and more with CUNY Unlimited internships and certificates as the program rolls out.
Some questions came up about the latest information on the CUNY Unlimited roll out. A lot still seems unknown, and we will reach out to appropriate CUNY people (e.g., Barbara Bookman or Carrie Shockley) to find out more. Some specific questions were: can Melissa Riggio students get any kinds of credits if they transfer over to CUNY Unlimited based on their experience there? Also, what will the certificate (or certificates) look like, and how will they connect to potential jobs for those students? Specifically for Education Program students, we pointed out that without a GED or HS diploma they currently could not work as teachers’ aides or in other DOE jobs – thus, what jobs might be available for these students? And finally, will CUNY Unlimited will be on the Academic side of the University or the Continuing Education side?
Finally, we affirmed that we want to work together to convince more colleagues of the positive benefits of inclusion. To help us with this, we will read Sue Carpenter’s forthcoming article, which was handed out at the meeting. Our next FIG meeting will be on Monday, 10/28 in the Education Program conference room (V-117) at 3pm. We also discussed reading the chapter on “Intellectual Disability” in our FIG’s book “College for Students with Disabilities: We Do Belong.” It is full of stories, case studies, and the current outlook for students with various disabilities (including intellectual disability, autism, cerebral palsy, learning disability, and ADHD) in higher education.
Finally, Stella mentioned the Call for Proposals for the excellent CUNY Neurodiversity Conference. They are looking for presenters like us who have experience and insight working with students with Intellectual Disability, and thinking about how to best include them at KCC. We also mentioned possibly planning to attend together as a FIG. They have one day on autism spectrum and one day on intellectual disability, and the conference will take place this March 12th and 13th, 2020. It is an excellent place to network with others CUNY-wide who have similar interests in inclusion, CUNY Unlimited, and who are working on similar things.
Here is a link to the conference: