Interdisciplinary course provides expanded comprehension, new perception of disability

Associate professor in the Ella Cline Shear School of Education Linda Ware’s bustling office reflects her warm and welcoming personality. It isn’t until you talk to Ware, however, that you see how driven and passionate she is about teaching her students what her classes have to offer.

Ware illustrated that although Geneseo offers a wide variety of interesting classes for students, one of these classes in particular is known for providing a new perspective on everyday life. This course—INTD 105: Writing Seminar: Disability in America—offers students an engaging “general exploration of disability in society,” according to Ware.

Ware explained that the class—and the conversations evoked in the class—“have a lot of application in other areas of students’ lives.” The course can be beneficial for anyone and everyone, along with INTD 207: Interdisciplinary Disability Studies—the “follow up [course] of INTD 105.”

Students enrolled in INTD 105—as well as 207—can find that these courses aren’t just classes where students write a research paper for a passing grade. Instead, they are classes that bring students a “cutting edge and new perspective” when analyzing disability in society. They allow, according to Ware, “everyone to have a different perspective of disability in class,” which can be a difficult quality to find in some classes.

Ware explained that the workload is what the students make of it. “It’s all on them,” she said. Although Ware has high expectations for the students, students become driven by their own interest. For example, Ware commended one of her students for taking on an intensive paper willingly just because the subject sparked her interest.  

“People think that there’s no fate worse than disability,” Ware said. Sometimes, the class subject will make certain people uncomfortable—uncomfortable enough not to take the class. This perception of disability is one of the concepts the class tries to reexamine. Through the employment of deep and sophisticated discussions, Ware’s class helps to make students aware that having a disability is not something to avoid or fix—it is a part of people’s lives.

The class also helps students to see that when examining disability, there is a side to the conversation that can be seen as—as Ware explained—a “critique of ableism.” The critique of ableism calls for an examination of the fact that the world has been made for the able and that sometimes institutions fail to explore how they can accommodate those with disabilities. Moreover, many believe that there is a need to classify and divide disability into either a medical concern or a cultural one. The class not only further examines these topics, but also shows how they are intertwined in the world.

Ware explained that she recently attended a conference in Milwaukee that reinforced her view that people need to expand their views in order to help others. Furthermore, the best way to accomplish improvement is to “link arms” and work together.

Her courses INTD 105: Writing Seminar: Disability in America and INTD 207: Interdisciplinary Disability Studies strive to do just that: to educate in order to improve the way society views others and their difficulties.