Recently faculty and students from the Speech-Language Pathology
(SLP), Occupational Therapy
(OT), and Blindness and Low Vision Studies
(BLVS) programs from the University’s College of Education and Rehabilitation (CER) participated in an Interprofessional Education (IPE) workshop which focused on investigating universal design, a broad-spectrum of ideas meant to produce buildings, products and environments that are accessible to people both with and without disabilities, on campus and the community surrounding the University.
On the first day of the two-day workshop, students listened to lectures from faculty across the professions and then IPE groups from across the involved programs were given a case-based scenario about universal design. “Although all of the programs discuss principles of universal design in our course and clinical work, this is a unique opportunity to consider universal design from an interdisciplinary prospective,” said Kathleen M. Youse, PhD, CCC-SLP, BC-ANCDS, SLP program director. A broader lecture about universal design was also provided and related back to the case study the students reviewed and discussed. The students put then had the opportunity to put into practice the principles they learned around campus, preparing for the second day of on-site activities.
Day two consisted of students exploring and performing an environmental scan of community sites such as the Rowland Community Center; Abington School District; Briar Bush Nature Center; TEI; Ambler YMCA; Hiway Theater; Keswick Theater; and Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, all of which are within close proximity to the Elkins Park campus. Each site was fully assessed with students from each discipline to decipher how a member of the community with a disability is able to engage in each specific site. Students identified positive examples using the principles they learned the previous day and areas of improvement so that all individuals, regardless of their ability, have the same access. “It was apparent during the community outings that the students from the different programs were learning from each other, which was great to see in action,” Dr. Youse said.
After the site evaluations, presentations were put together and sent to each of the sites for applicable changes within each of the spaces.
Sheri Hoffert, ‘20BLVS, whose group evaluated the Keswick Theater, in Glenside, enjoyed the hands-on experience. “The way the activities were set up provided an immediate need for everyone in the group to introduce themselves and work together toward formulating responses about universal design for environments, as well as specific areas of our practical expertise for case studies,” she said. Hoffert sees how this experience can further expand her collaboration with other professionals in the public schools she currently works with to ensure there are limited to no environmental factors acting as barriers to their success.
TEI was hailed as the first optometric care facility in the nation to embrace a multidisciplinary approach involving optometrists, ophthalmologists, physicians, low vision rehabilitation specialists, students and other healthcare professionals working together to provide vision and eye care. Fast forward to 2012 and now operating as Salus University, it was a priority to explore and provide more extensive IPE opportunities for students across programs, and the IPE committee was formed. For the past six years, the committee has added to and tweaked the integrated curriculum in order to match the changing healthcare horizon and to ensure students get the most out of the workshop.
As today’s healthcare landscape continues to advance and becomes more integrated, Salus strongly believes all professions represented within a healthcare team need to recognize the advantages and opportunities to work together for the optimum benefit of each patient. It is because of these beliefs that the IPE program and workshop came to fruition.