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About ACCESS-ed

The ACCESS-ed Project was a model demonstration project from 2005-2008. It was one of about two dozen Demonstration Projects to Ensure a Quality Higher Education for Students with Disabilities, funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education. The R2D2 Center, of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee (UWM), also hosted Project Impact (1999-2002) and is currently hosting its third generation Demonstration Project, called UD ITEACH (2008-2011). (Information about all of U.S. D.O.E. funded Demonstration Projects is available at and more about the current UD ITEACH Project is available at

The R2D2 Center projects promote universal design in higher education as the primary method of ensuring that students with disabilities receive access to the full scope of higher education campuses. This includes development and delivery of low-cost resources to help members of the campus community deliver universally designed instruction, services, information media, and physical environment through eliminating barriers to accessibility. The projects are directed by Dr. Roger O. Smith and Dr. Dave Edyburn (Co-director for UD ITEACH) and include interdisciplinary teams from UWM and other campuses throughout the nation. 

The ACCESS-ed Website presents products and resources for the implementation of universal design on post-secondary campuses. In addition to our own products, the website compiles and indexes a database of universal design resources from other available sources to incorporate a comprehensive set of information and resources.

One of the key emphases of the project is the dissemination of information through unique campus networks of DARCs (Departmental Accessibility Resource Coordinators). DARC resources, such as a manual, are available on the ACCESS-ed Website for campuses to replicate and adapt to their unique circumstances.

One of the focus areas of the R2D2 Center, where the Projects are based, is its attention to measurement. The R2D2 Center philosophy states that good assessments help identity and clarify needs, diagnose exact problems and set the stage for better design. Thus, evaluation tools become important change agents and encouraging their use serves as a core intervention strategy. As can be seen by perusing this website, tools have been developed with attention to measurement of campus accessibility as a strategy to improve the education of students with disabilities.

The ACCESS-ed Project was and now the UD ITEACH Project is supported in part by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Post-secondary Education, PR/Awards #P333A050090 and # P333A080071, respectively. The opinions contained in this publication are those of the grantees and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Education.


It took me several years of struggling with the heavy door to my building, sometimes having to wait until a person stronger came along, to realize that the door was an accessibility problem, not only for me, but for others as well. And I did not notice, until one of my students pointed it out, that the lack of signs that could be read from a distance at my university forced people with mobility impairments to expend a lot of energy unnecessarily, searching for rooms and offices. Although I have encountered this difficulty myself on days when walking was exhausting to me, I interpreted it, automatically, as a problem arising from my illness (as I did with the door), rather than as a problem arising from the built environment having been created for too narrow a range of people and situations.

Susan Wendell, author of
The Rejected Body: Feminist Philosophical Reflections on Disability