Welcome to Episode 93 of the Think UDL podcast: UDL and Intersectionality with Denia Bradshaw. Denia Bradshaw is a UDL Advocate and Independent Scholar, an adjunct instructor at Landmark College, a musician, and the Music Department Coordinator at California State University, Los Angeles. We are fortunate to hear how she brings all of these amazing gifts to bear in her work during this conversation. This episode centers on the emergence and history of both Universal Design for Learning and the concept of Intersectionality. We will define these terms and discuss similarities and connections between the two, taking particular aim at what has been overlooked and what to do now. We will discuss why using both of these lenses matters in higher education today.
udl, intersectionality, students, people, learning, understand, learners, identities, barriers, important, disability, workshop, concept, variability, universal design, question, policy, podcast, thinking, feel
Lillian Nave, Denia Bradshaw
Lillian Nave 00:02
Welcome to think UDL, the Universal Design for Learning podcast where we hear from the people who are designing and implementing strategies with learner variability in mind. I’m your host, Lillian Nave. And I’m interested in not just what you’re teaching, learning, guiding and facilitating, but how you design and implement it and why it even matters. Welcome to Episode 93 of the think UDL podcast UDL and intersectionality with Danya Bradshaw. Danielle Bradshaw is a UDL advocate and independent scholar, and adjunct instructor at Landmark College, a musician and the music department coordinator at California State University in Los Angeles, we are fortunate to hear how she brings all of these amazing gifts to bear in her work during this conversation. This episode centers on the emergence and history of both universal design for learning and the concept of intersectionality. We will define these terms and discuss similarities and connections between the two. Taking particular aim at what has been overlooked and what to do now, we will discuss why using both of these lenses matters in higher education today. Thank you for listening. And a special thank you to the folks at the UDL H E network that stands for Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education Network for their financial support of the think UDL podcast. Thank you to our sponsor, Texthelp, a global technology company helping people all over the world to understand and to be understood, it has led the way in creating innovative technology for the workplace, and education sectors, including K 12. right through to higher education for the last three decades. So I’m very excited to get to talk to you today. Denia, thank you so much for being on the podcast with me.
Denia Bradshaw 02:21
Yeah, thanks for having me. This is such an honor. I love listening to your show.
Lillian Nave 02:26
Well, I, I’ve learned already a lot from you. And when I saw that you were presenting at Landmark College and saw your I asked for like, tell me what you’re doing and wanted to get a chance to talk to you. And we go back aways and have have worked together in the UDL at Universal Design for Learning in Higher Ed, organization or group. And I’m just really excited to kind of showcase your knowledge on this. It’s a really interesting topic about UDL and intersectionality. So that’s why I’m super interested to get this out. And I know other people are interested, too. So I’ll start with my first question. You know, it’s coming, and that is what makes you a different kind of learner.
Denia Bradshaw 03:16
Oh, my gosh, it’s so funny. It’s like the one question I could prepare for that I did not prepare for. Like that could go either way. But one thing I did think about when thinking about this question is I’ve noticed, like, you know, we all know what works for us or what doesn’t, and we figure this out through experience, right? And I think for me, the the what makes me maybe different. And I imagine maybe not so different because a lot of people could benefit from this is really getting to know if I’m learning a new concept, or I guess I’ll just keep it at concept to keep it kind of open that I need context, like how does this fit? Like, if we’re talking about engineering or putting something together? It’s like, okay, well, what purpose does this serve? Like? I think context helps me a lot. But it really depends on what I’m doing. Like, like, a couple of weeks ago, I I bought these like crystals, and they’re really pretty and I’m like, I kind of want to wear them and I didn’t like the little cages that people kind of pull it apart and you kind of put them in there. I was like, there has to be something prettier. And I like Googled wire wrapping crystals and it’s a thing and I literally followed a YouTube video and would pause I would try something pause. So it’s like, I mean that one specifically. It’s like I just needed the visual. So I think sometimes it just depends. So yeah, I think the biggest part is that I’ve never really realized when I was younger, maybe more so when I was older is being able to understand its purpose. I think it serves my deep learning better because I under Standard why it exists and what purposes it exists for. So I don’t know if that makes me different. But I’ve noticed that that’s very essential for me.
Lillian Nave 05:10
Yes. Well, that it’s very context, you’re saying your learning is very context dependent. And I know what we’re going to talk about. And it’s all about context and understanding your learners and where they come from. And that’s so much what UDL is, is knowing that our learners are all different. And everybody has a different context. So we need to be facilitating that connection for for all of our learners. So that to me, it makes a lot of sense that you would say, context, I didn’t know you’re gonna say it, but it totally makes a lot of sense with the scholarship and research that you’re doing. So. So okay, so you’ve done some really interesting work on UDL and intersectionality. It’s a term that’s really useful, important, well used in our day, like right now, but I don’t think everybody knows exactly what that means, or how we can apply it and how you intersectionality and UDL go together. So I’d like to explore your ideas on these concepts and their relationship. But first, let’s start with some definitions. of both. Yes, intersectionality and your definition of UDL.
Denia Bradshaw 06:28
Cool. So in preparing, like my presentation at Landmark, and for the summit, I, I wanted to make sure that the definitions use were from kind of like from the origins I suppose, like, before I get into intersectionality, for instance, for us and like our, like a lot of the listeners I made sure I use the definition that’s in the the foundational UDL book, The Universal Design for Learning theory and practice. So that’s the definition I use for that in terms of intersectionality. I, there’s different definitions from different places, they all kind of say the same thing differently. I like the way Kimberly Crenshaw describes it. But the definition I’m going to use today is from the Oxford dictionary, and the way it’s described there is that intersectionality is the interconnected nature of social categorization, such as race, class, and gender, among many more, that’s not in the definition, but I continue, as regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage. So kind of to add, it’s based on whatever identity markers an individual may have, or not have can put them in a place of advantage or disadvantage. Obviously, if you’re in a place of advantage, a framework like intersectionality would not emerge, right? A lot of frameworks and practices and things like this come about because we want to understand a phenomena or an issue and increase understanding for purposes of finding solutions. So intersectionality is this I guess, this framework, this overarching concept of different? Yeah, identities, like I the way Kimberly Crenshaw describes it all the time is as a prism, which I think is really powerful. The way a beam of light, you know, might strike a prism and express itself in who knows, we can’t always determine what way it’s going to express itself, this angle, and this new color. It’s unanticipated, and a lot of the connections that that I see with intersectionality. And UDL is it’s like, in the classroom, like, variability is the norm, right? Not the exception. And that’s how I feel about intersectionality. It’s like, you can’t really anticipate things you can’t just put things in boxes. There’s there’s really a lot of unique contexts is circumstances, experiences, identities, backgrounds, cultural sovereignties, there’s just so many things to consider and understand before just making assumptions and putting things in boxes. Yeah, so I’ll, I’m sure at some point, I’ll describe more about the history. I think that’s one of our other questions. It’s coming. It’s coming. So I hope that I mean, maybe that’s a little simplistic, or maybe I overdid it, but how was that in terms of defining what it is?
Lillian Nave 09:51
Very good. Yes. I mean, that’s we just need a place to start. And I think that’s very helpful. And yeah, go ahead. You’re you’re you Do a definition to I really appreciated that when you do these workshops, you make sure everybody knows where we’re starting, that there’s not some sort of loosey goosey understanding where I think I know what you’re talking about. But that’s what I want to clarify. So your UDL definition that you share?
Denia Bradshaw 10:18
Okay. Yeah, I think it’s really important to not have misinformation, to obviously the scholars that come up with these, you know, frameworks and ideas and concepts that that, you know, that they get credited. But anyway, the UDL definition that I have, I have Universal Design for Learning is a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn. So yeah, it’s just right, the learning brain neuroscience, removing barriers, not just physical, right?
Lillian Nave 10:59
Yeah, it’s, it is it’s a, it’s a pretty big concepts. And I often have trouble coming up with just one definition. So I wanted to give us both the starting point, before we talk about these two things, UDL and intersectionality. So yeah, so here’s that question we both referenced, what similarities do you see about the history and emergence of both UDL and intersectionality?
Denia Bradshaw 11:24
Okay, you. So the history as why they came about, and why it’s important. So I think I mentioned this at the workshop, too. I like to think of, like backwards design, and obviously not an instructional curriculum design way. So working backwards, so these concepts not come about from nowhere. And I believe that by understanding why they emerge, their history and their development, again, adds context, increases understanding and awareness with factual information, the truth, the correct information. And I mentioned that because there’s a lot of misconceptions and misinformation that is being spread about things like intersectionality. And I think it’s because of this lack of awareness. Honestly, this is happening, I think, if awareness increased and was high end about what it really is, and how it really came about and what purposes it serves. I think the misinformation, or the misconception wouldn’t exist. And I feel this way with UDL, too, I think when it’s misunderstood, or when people think it’s overwhelming. Again, another thing I find, as a misunderstanding is not I mean, it’s not that I’m saying anyone’s overwhelmed, should be dismissed in any way, shape, or form. I’m just saying it’s not an overwhelming framework. It’s actually quite simple. But I think, again, with heightened awareness and understanding the those, those can be deemed demystified. So yes. So um, so again, so they emerge because of a phenomena occurring that we may not fully or understand at all. But we want to and I think to this is important, because this is happening in our lives. It’s something we observed, it’s happened to someone we know in our community, something we experienced, it might be something we’re researching. And again, these concepts are part of this body of research that aims to identify ways to understand generally implications, whether that’s for practice and or research. But again, to find ways to solve them. We see similarities. So with intersectionality, so this was coined by a legal studies scholar Kimberly Crenshaw. This was in the context of her research and critical race, legal studies on domestic violence against women of color, specifically women of color, who are immigrants in Los Angeles. And just the complexity of that, if you think about it, it’s it’s kind of scary, right? The fear of reporting, economic challenges, a lack of multilingual services and shelters. And to compound it further, there’s these other barriers that for further subjugate these women that are already vulnerable to isms, such as classism, racism, sexism, so she was doing this research and even though she coined this term and framework in the late 1980s intersectional intersectionality is actually based on a concept that has developed over many years prior to that of struggle. And again, the research one of the core cases that really I guess kind of brought this to her. Dr. Kimberly Crenshaw, his attention was a court case in 1976, it was De Graaff. And read versus General Motors. So in the 1970s, this, a lot of black women were laid off from this company, and they took this to court indicating that they are being discriminated on race and gender. And the court dismissed it, they claimed that, that they did hire women, and that they did hire black people, not understanding the compounding of the intersections of race and gender. So, but the problem was that the workforce was being segregated by race and gender, the women that were hired were white women, and the black people that were hired were black men. So she, you know, she just found that just really interesting. And it’s, I find it interesting, too. And now also, obviously, it’s problematic. Because it I mean, the 1919 76, that was, I don’t want to like put out my age here. But I wasn’t alive at the end. But you know, it wasn’t too long before I was born. And to me just that. But then again, and I’m sure we’ll get to this later, when we talk about some of these reflection questions I had for the workshop where you reflect on your own identity and privileges and things. Like a lot of this, I’d never would have thought about given my own experiences, identities, backgrounds. Granted, I’d have had my own struggle, which I could talk about later, which is unique in its own way that, you know, someone who doesn’t identify with the things that I’ve, I guess, have lived with live through, may not understand. So it’s since I mean, people are complex and not in a complicated like, not in a negative way in it’s just you can’t plan for it. You just have to accept again, back to you do that variability is just the norm. That’s just what it is. Okay, let’s see. I’m like thinking, Am I catching everything similarities? Okay. So some of the similarities between that and how UDL emerges? Again, it’s to understand something UDL, I think has more of an evolved process, because it’s kind it’s, you know, it was the founders originally were making, like technologies for education for students with disabilities and throughout their research in improving their practice, as all good practitioners should do. They, you know, met up with the neurosciences. And we’re like, hey, like, these three learning networks always light up when learning but never in the same way. What you know. Yeah, I love that, that saying that the brain is as unique as a fingerprint, because it’s true, right? There’s qualities of it that are the same. But they’re all different.
Lillian Nave 18:17
And every individual has this very different learning profile, a jagged learning profile as we as we talk about in UDL.
Denia Bradshaw 18:25
Yeah. So I think that’s maybe like, the biggest similarity is just that whole, that variability of whether it’s, I mean, intersectionality emerged from basically, you know, people being discriminated and others not understanding that. Like, there’s a compounding happening here because of their identity. And the, like I said earlier, the isms involved. And then UDL. It’s, it’s kind of like, it’s a little different, but similar in a way that we have this traditional way of approaching education and teaching students and we think that’s how it works. But then you explore further and you realize there’s actually a lot more to it. I love Todd roses book and of average such a great book. Because there is no average that doesn’t exist. There’s I mean, I like to call it the status quo. But so I think that’s where I see the biggest similarity is this whole notion of honoring and accepting the uniqueness among whether it’s about learning or someone’s experiences that may have shaped them who they are, may have shaped their beliefs and views. There’s history behind both really,
Lillian Nave 19:53
yeah. When when you were explaining especially that intersectionality part and the court cases, it made me think about UDL in a slightly different way. I’m not sure if I’ve used this word before about the way that the status quo, I think is a great word to say we’re not saying that’s right. But it’s it’s been in the educational space and higher ed for a long time that status quo has been discriminatory against different brains, different ways of learning that could be equally impressive, very talented learners. And it’s hasn’t been a strength based approach until UDL really taught me about taking that strength based approach. And, you know, UDL came also from that idea about universal design and accessibility starting in the physical world. And now we’ve brought it into the, the world of the brain, and trying to take down those barriers. And so that similarity of breaking down the barriers is visible in a discrimination lawsuit. If we’re talking about visible identities, they are like being black and female, is something most can see on the outside. But the different brains, the learner variability is mostly invisible. So it’s just extending that same concept, I think, into the educational realm. Absolutely. Yeah.
Denia Bradshaw 21:33
Yeah, I think it’s, yeah, I just, like when I learned more about intersectionality, it was really when I was writing my dissertation. I just was like, whoa, this like really aligns with this.
Lillian Nave 21:45
Yeah, that’s, I appreciate you bringing that to my attention and seeing it and really helping me see it, giving me some tools to to talk about it. So speaking of tools, you go into that, and your workshop, this is a really valuable workshop. I’m just telling all your listeners. So talk to Danya. And so how you talk about this, how are both intersectionality and UDL used as tools. And as an approach then for this is the big stuff, changing policies, practices, beliefs, institutions and systems. And I just love how you’ve connected them. So let’s start with intersectionality. And just illumine me because I’m really keen to hear what you have to say.
Denia Bradshaw 22:36
lately. You’re so much fun.
Lillian Nave 22:42
We do have a good time. Yeah, we Oh, man.
Denia Bradshaw 22:45
I Gosh, it’s so policies, practices, beliefs, institutions and systems. One thing I want to say about policy and institutions and systems specifically, I think policy is policy is law. Right? It’s a it’s a mandate. And I think it’s funny, like in higher education, it’s not really funny, but maybe it’s funny if you’re in higher education, and you can relate. It’s like, initiative after initiative, executive order, the accrediting agencies coming in, and it’s like you put on a good face, you do your lip service, whatever. I mean, I know that’s very not kind, but I’m sure many of us could agree this is what’s happening. And I, I think the biggest thing with policy is, I think it just goes back to the beginning of us. You know, chatting is people understanding why it emerged. So why is this policy being put in place? What’s happening? Because I think people get tired of policy being pushed on them without understanding of why it’s because something’s not happening, not meeting compliance, whatever. But I think maybe a different approach with policy is really important. I’m not sure what that looks like. I think it’s going to be different in different places. It’s going to be different with different colleagues, people who are very inclusive, and there’s people who are a lot more reserved, you want to keep doing what they’ve been doing for and I quote, someone who talked about an instructor or faculty member, why change now I’ve been doing this for 30 years, like literally, that’s what they said. You know, you just get used to doing the same thing. But I think in terms of changing policies, I think leveraging your social capital, this is something we talked about at the session. Just kind of knowing who you can talk to organizing planning. I’ve noticed that whether it’s is reaching faculty and like professional learning or talking to graduate students, whatever it is, it’s when it’s backed up by research. I think people are more willing to listen and take it in. Even administrators I always hear, you know, oh, there’s issues of, you know, persistence and retention, and completion, and they need the numbers to change. And it’s like, okay, numbers, numbers, numbers. So this is influential, okay, let’s get some numbers and influence you. So I guess extending the practice sharing with colleagues, resources. I think like one of the hardest and most foundational parts of all this that is really important is the beliefs aspect of it. Because if you don’t believe in something, and I feel like this ties in Back to the policy, you’re not, you don’t really want to accept it, it may not be something you want to implement, or utilize, I think to implement change, it can’t just be a top down solution. And it can’t just be a root up solution, either. And it’s also not just vertical, it’s horizontal. It’s organic. It’s ever changing, kind of how the UDL guidelines are changing. It’s adaptive, it’s flexible. I think that’s very necessary. I think people also need to be informed as to why it’s happening, what solutions we need, what outcomes we can expect, I think the overview is really important. And helping folks understand why something is necessary to occur. I think to leveraging the community is also important getting their voices heard, making sure they’re accounted for. I think that also helps with whether we’re changing policies or practices, beliefs, institutions and systems. I think the biggest thing though, is leveraging your social capital, knowing who you can talk to spreading the word
Lillian Nave 27:11
discussion of intersectionality. When I was looking through what you what you do in your workshop, and you talk it, talk about it as a tool for analysis, right? That if you are aware of this concept of intersectionality and use it as a tool to say I’m going to look at it through this lens. It helps me in my UDL work to say, Okay, I have instead of looking at a classroom and say I have some autistic students, I have some neurotypical students, I have some English as a second language, right? Students, I have some rural students, I have some black students, some Asian students, right, okay. But when I also add on that lens of intersectionality, I start to see how each of those learners instead of, let’s say, categorizing them, and what am I doing for this section? And what am I doing for that section? It is now looking, I’m looking at students saying, well, they’re multiple things. At one time, I have neuro diverse, culturally diverse students, all in the same student. And being mindful of how those overlapping identities may influence their sense of belonging in the classroom, their ability to thrive and be successful. And so, as you say that, that knowledge that intersectionality is a tool that helps me to increase my awareness, my knowledge of how contexts, there’s that word, again, that we started out with, that’s our theme, right? And these unique, unique intersections are really important in understanding the learner, the learners in my learning environment, and not wanting to have a barrier that, in essence, discriminates against my students without without me knowing. And so that intersectionality is helping me to be aware, to advocate for my students to, I guess, create, I mean, I’m thinking about just in my class, create policies, where students can be successful because they have choice and flexibility that aligns with their with their learner profile, right or their, their their difference. And that really opened my eyes the way you frame intersectionality as a tool, and that lens and putting those two together has I feel like it’s supercharges my understanding of, of you UDL and putting it into practice. So again, I was like, Whoa, these slides are on fire. Some good stuff here. Oh, man. Yeah. So and you do you talk about those those lenses? I think I’ve got a question coming up about that. But it really helps deepen my understanding, I think of UDL. It’s, I think a lot of my work is introducing people to the concept. And this is kind of UDL practitioner 2.0 or 7.0. Right, too, you have to first be aware that everyone’s different. And then there’s a lot more that goes into it not, not only are there different, there’s overlapping and intersecting interests, I guess, intersectionalities that, like a Venn diagram, you’ve got the blue section, blue circle over here, and the yellow section over here. And then the green circle, in the middle is a different, it’s just a whole different thing than the blue and the yellow. Yeah. And it has different outcomes. You know, like, I appreciate you quoting the idea about the prism from the Crenshaw, which does, like different colors are going to come come through that. So you are that approach, I think, helps me to see that we need to combine both of those. It’s not just the basic UDL, it’s really going deeper. That’s why I was excited about this. Yeah. And
Denia Bradshaw 31:35
the learning brain as unique as it is. There’s a lot of aspects to in terms of, I guess, like aspects of an individual, like one element, a participant brought up at Landmark that I am very aware of given my own experiences and how it’s challenged me, because of it is trauma, trauma informed pedagogy, right? We don’t know, where students are coming from, we don’t know what they’ve been through. We don’t know what intergenerational trauma exists. Yes, it’s, there’s a lot of factors that can affect how they learn. And again, whether they feel belonging, if someone feels threatened, like we all know, that’s gonna activate, you know, not your prefrontal cortex and higher order thinking you’re going to feel threatened, it’s going to be Fight, Flight freeze, and learning is compromised. So there’s just there’s so many aspects to it. And it’s like, it just feels like the most foundational way to handle this is to just be accepting. Honor all that comes. Even if it’s challenging, just reframing it as an opportunity for growth and innovation. I have a video that I wanted to share with participants are there’s several but one of them in particular to thinking about outside of the box and innovation that I particularly love is called. It’s a TED Talk. It’s called Why We Need universal design. And the the I got to the presenter, I almost said speaker, he actually signs the whole TED talk. And I do that in quotes. But he his name is Michael nice Smith. I hope I said his last name correctly. It’s a really great video, I highly recommend it. Among the other videos I wanted participants to watch was won by Todd Rose about the end of average. I have a video on us really short, but she does such a beautiful job of just summing up intersectionality by the mind, Dr. Kimberly Crenshaw herself. And then I have a TED Talk that she did. This one is really powerful. Another unique I guess, type of intersections is from this TED talk, she starts the TED Talk, saying, I’m gonna try. I think she’s like an experiment. And I And she’s like, if you recognize the name, everyone stand up, if you recognize that name, stay standing. And when you stop recognizing names, please sit down. And she starts listing names. And the the first handful of names are names of black men that have been brutally killed by police brutality. And then she starts listing women’s names who have been who have undergone the same brutality. And people sit down literally after, like a ton, like The camera like goes to the audience and shows like, if I want to say like 75% 60% of the audience start sitting down. And this is the whole, like that hashtag, say her name. And, and again, an example of, like, the focus. I mean, it’s, it’s awful and it’s wrong. But the focus again being on men and women just be left out. She goes on to describe more about intersectionality, and the end of the video or the end of the TED talk, she has an artist scene, and they’re saying all their names, and it’s, it’s really powerful. It’s moving, and it’s also painful. But I really, I find that really powerful. And then the last two videos I have in here. One is I’m sure many people have seen this, I feel like it’s getting kind of old. I feel like I’ve seen it in so many different platforms. It’s like a race, there’s a teacher has a like a line of students on the grass fields. And he’s like, if you’ve ever had to, he gives all these instances if you’ve never had to, like shut your phone off, because you didn’t have enough money that month, advance whatever. And he just does this with a bunch of different examples to kind of describe privilege, to a better understanding of privilege, because I think privilege has a lot to do with all of these concepts as well. And then the last video I have is the unequal opportunity race. And it kind of continues to depict different in a wage kind of showcases different identities benefiting and different identities being discriminated and not benefiting. And I feel like all of that is really important to digest and understand and accept. Because those of us who are in positions where we can do more we can like I said this up the workshop too, I’m like caring is, is this enough. But we also have to take some action, but also in terms of like, you know, being an advocate and activist, it’s important to, to kind of watch our care. And I’m not saying turn a blind eye. I don’t know how many people are familiar with Tara Brach. She, she’s a psychologist and meditation teacher. And I recently listened to her book on Audible. I am an audible subscriber, I think I have every single badge possible from them. But anyway, that’s the end of her book, she talks about the importance of you know, doing work, because there’s, there’s, there’s people out there who just I’ll give an example from her book, she talks about like, giving meditations and how there was one day she just or she had something going on, and she had to cancel some and reschedule and a close friend of hers, a woman of color went up to her like you don’t understand, like how hard this is for me not to be able to come here because this was like her. This is where her cup got filled. She basically was taking care of, oh, gosh, let’s see. I think like, I think it was men of color that were homeless, or Gosh, that might need to be edited to because I don’t remember. But I guess the point is, in her book, she’s like, I acknowledge that I have the privilege and ability to take this away. But this is what refills her to keep doing really hard, difficult work. And she says to like, it’s important as social activists to embrace compassion, more so than empathy. And now I’m gonna go back into neuroscience because she says if we, you know, empathize all the time and not utilize our mindfulness or compassion. It so, they found in neuroscience that the areas that activate in the brain when being empathetic, was emotion, self awareness, but also pain. Okay, and with compassion, it stimulates areas of care, nurturing, but it also areas of learning decision making the reward system and it stimulates secretion of oxytocin, the bonding hormone, so if anything, that’s a more positive approach. So again, caring is important. And then you know, do mean, the work is important too. But we also have to care for ourselves. Because some of these things that people are going through some of the things happening in the world are just really, really difficult to
Lillian Nave 40:12
Denia Bradshaw 40:15
a lot of it is wrong. And it’s just, it’s just painful. But, again, mindfulness protects us in that way. Feel like I kind of deterred a little?
Lillian Nave 40:30
Well, you bring up a very important concept that this can be very hard work. And UDL, I get the pushback of I can’t do all this. This seems like a lot. And I counter that. And I can honestly say, actually, when I have implemented this, it’s it’s actually made my teaching life easier. I’ve provided options, it’s, it might be just a shifting around of the work, some more work on the design and less work on the kind of flitting around to try to fix a bunch of retrofitting? Yes. So it is, it’s some hard work. That may come up at the beginning, some design work, some laying the foundation, so that students understand that it’s a place where they can bring their whole selves that you as the facilitator or instructor of record, can explain that you see everybody’s differences, that you expect there to be variability and you want to leverage that variability, that’s a good thing, rather than trying to hide one’s identity. Or hide who they who they are in some way that we can create experiences, educational settings, or experiences that try to take away these barriers so that it isn’t as hard for both the learner and the facilitator, teacher, instructor, whatever we’re going to be called. And so it takes some of this, like this hard conversation right now, to understand what the stakes can be. And, and each listener here, every person knows their own particular area best. They know what kind of class they have, what kind of situation they have. And it will vary. You might have your first year students, and you might have your grad students. And those are different contexts. So thinking about those contexts. And every time you teach the class, you get more and more experience, not knowing that my learners were accessing so much by their phones, and therefore I needed to make sure it was very mobile friendly, rather than Yeah, and, and low bandwidth for this particular course and time and population, then that makes it much easier, right for the next time. So yeah, so it’s hard. It’s hard to be thinking about these things. But it also it’s like the hard work to make it not only a better outcome, but in essence, easier in the long run or more successful, less hard work on the back end. At least that’s what I’ve found. If if I can spot a barrier and take it down, hey, that’s a lot better to do at the beginning of class than it is to try to apologize to try to make amends. Or to deconstruct whatever policies I made that sometimes are the problem I didn’t realize were the problem. Yeah. So So you ask a lot of reflection questions. And I wanted to ask you, one of them. You in Your reflection worksheet, I want to know your answer. What sort of do you think overlapping and intersecting identities? Have you observed or vulnerable, most impacted? And just can you give us an example is really what I’m looking for of that, how that intersectionality works, and how you identify what you might do.
Denia Bradshaw 44:25
Okay. I just want to give credit where credit is due really quick. I adopted these questions from the US Human Rights Network. From the Rutgers Center for Women’s global leadership, it’s literally called framing questions on intersectionality. And I thought they were really I didn’t use all of them, but I thought they were really really good, but just FYI, credit words do so what overlapping intersecting identities have I observed to be the most vulnerable or most empty? acted. Um, I feel like this depends
Lillian Nave 45:07
on the context. Yes.
Denia Bradshaw 45:10
Yeah, like, like my first thought is, I feel like just hidden disability continues to be left out of conversations, I feel like disabilities continues to be about what is you can see with the eye. I also think too, when you think of disability, you think of white male. So I feel like there’s a lot of vulnerability with, you know, whether it’s variability with this hidden disability or disability and gender identity, sexual orientation obviously, ethnicity the most vulnerable, and then again, like I said, context, like this, maybe not the best example but for me, and not that I was vulnerable, but for example, studying music. Having grown up more on the low socio economic, you know, paradigm I, it was it’s it’s a privilege to study music, it was a privilege to own an instrument, it was a privilege to have flute lessons. It’s expensive to do music. Is it super valuable? Yes. There’s so many skills I learned studying music. I have a Bachelor’s Master’s in music. And there’s so many skills, my degrees, just I mean, collaboration, discipline, detail oriented creativity expression. There’s I mean, that’s just, I’m scratching the surface.
Lillian Nave 47:03
transferrable skills. Oh, yeah. I talk about in our strategic plans and things like that.
Denia Bradshaw 47:09
Yeah. Yeah. But, but getting to study it. Like I was really lucky that my dad, for example, just really valued music because he played trumpet, I think, up until the end of high school before he went to the army, and then my grandmother, who was my real inspiration, I mean, my dad obviously inspired me to but my grandma, I mean, I remember she would play piano for us when I was little. And I, yeah, I wanted actually want it. Okay, this is how much I knew. Money was tough. I wanted to learn the piano in elementary school, just like my grandma Ferris and piano was not offered you either sing in the choir, or you play with band instruments. And I’m like, Okay, I I love playing flute, by the way, but I wanted to do saxophone, like Lisa Simpson or play the French one. And, in literally, this is how much I knew what my limitations were. I asked what was the cheapest? Yeah, and they said, the flute is not the cheapest on a professional level, but at a beginner level, it’s the cheapest. Yeah. So I mentioned that because like in that world finances help a lot. It I mean, I feel like racism is so Oh, my God, all the isms are just so terrible. ageism, racism, sexism. I think it depends where you go, were the most vulnerable. Personally, though, I feel like hidden disabilities continues to be left out of the conversation.
Lillian Nave 48:51
Well, I really appreciate that answer. It’s really an unfair question. And you’re absolutely right. It’s dependent on context. And wherever you are all listeners here, it’s going to be dependent on where you are. So where I am in semi rural Appalachia is absolutely different than where you are in Los Angeles, California. And, and knowing your context matters. And so it takes time, and probably a couple of times when you teach the course and find out more and more about your students and about the context. But having that lens of intersectionality has been very helpful for me to be able to apply the UDL principles to try to take down as many barriers as possible. So one of the things you also talk about is honoring the learners. unique identities and and I wanted to to ask you, what does it mean to honor the learners learning preferences, identities, backgrounds and experience As we create learning experiences, what does that mean to you? How would you say you go about honoring the learners and their differences?
Denia Bradshaw 50:13
So, I have a lot of this has been a kind of like I’ve learned as I’ve gone and experience and observed, but also, I guess, researched. Obviously, experience is probably the best teacher. But I think of my approach being very acid spaced. An example, I’ll give a couple like one, one of the our attendees at the workshop mentioned, a student turning in a paper and how some of the reviewers or faculty was like, Oh, this is what’s wrong with it, and this and this, and this, and she’s like, I totally understood it. I thought, yeah, so so so what if this was incorrect, and this was incorrect, the I understand the idea. And it’s, you know, I thought it was wonderful. And I think that’s really, that’s part of it, is, if you come from an acid, I mean, you’re not ignoring like, if it’s a class where you have to improve your grammar, like you’re not ignoring that, but if part of the prompt was to put in some critical thinking of these different concepts, and you totally, you know, executed that that should be honored. So, I think I, and a lot of this is from my own experience as a student, and again, observing my brothers and other experiences and other observations and things and things that I’ve read and learned. But for instance, me, my English learner, Spanish was my first language. And I feel like at this point, I’ve shared this story a lot. But I was really shy as a kid. I didn’t feel belonging, I went to kindergarten in Mexico, I didn’t learn English. So I was like, six. And I remember in first grade having a teacher that I did not, like, and by did not like, I mean, like, not like I had an attitude, or I was mean to her. I mean, like, I was scared of her. And she didn’t, my mom told. And I remember her. And I remember my mom pulling me out of her classroom and taking me to a whole other school. And my mom told us, me and my other brother, I have two younger brothers once a year younger, and then one the youngest youngest is we’re about nine years apart. He has he’s, I guess, part of my inspiration to you know how, how I’m probably here today with you. He has a hidden disability. But me and my brother, my mom said that they didn’t tolerate us much. And she said at the new school they did. And I remember really liking that school. But I mentioned that because no student should ever feel like they are scared of their teacher or they’re bullied by their teacher just because they’re different.
Lillian Nave 53:06
Same for in higher ed to
Denia Bradshaw 53:07
Oh, yeah, absolutely. So I’ve always taken that approach. I mean, every now and then I’ve slipped I remember. Like, I used to have taught so many flute lessons. But I remember those, you’re just on your toes. It’s like, well, this learner benefits from this type of direction or guidance, this learner benefits from that. I remember using one approach that worked really well for one student with another. And then I saw tears coming down and I’m like, Oh, nope, that’s not the way. This is also, I’m learning, right? I’m like, okay, cool. I just really, so nowadays, I just really gauge the temperature, I really gauge how they respond. And I really take that all into account. I try to do that too, in larger settings, whether it’s a workshop or a classroom, in a lecture, I don’t like lecture, I try not to call it lecture, but we just always call it a lecture. But just like really embracing people, getting to know them, letting them know that their voices are important that their their ideas matter. Because honestly, half of the time I do these things or even with my flute students, I’m I’m the one benefiting the most because I’m learning a lot. Yeah, I really appreciate that. I really see it as a collaboration. Yeah, I might be guiding you. Yeah, it might be the person you’re paying or I’m quote unquote, the expert. Even though I really believe that whole growth mindset. I’m constantly going to be a life. I’m going I am a lifelong learner. I’m always adapting and learning. But I think that I try that that seems to be working. It seems to build connection connections and develop relationships. And I think that’s so important to create relationships. Yeah, I That’s my approach for now. Again, learning As I go seeking learning from others and what they’re doing, and just kind of like taking all the goodies and just like, can your goodness rub off on me? Great.
Lillian Nave 55:12
I appreciate you said asset base that that idea of a strength based approach is so important, it is exactly the opposite of these intersectionalities that cause discrimination, right? So these are the, that’s looking at somebody and saying, These are the things that kind of set you apart in a bad way or that because of the system that we’re in, have made it more difficult for you to be you or for you to be successful. And if we can work within, we have to work within that system sometimes, right? So if we can work within any system to be asset based, strength based talent focused, what can you do? How can you demonstrate it? Bring me your superpowers, you know, and let’s make that work for the common good. That’s, to me, that’s like the idea that’s bringing this together, that it’s flipping it flipping. Like disability, you’ve mentioned a lot the hidden disabilities, that’s something I’m really interested in. The idea now that’s coming in, I’m working on I’ve got somebody lined up to talk about disability cultural centers, reframing those negatives as positives, and getting everybody else on board. So, so that the community sees those as positives that sees there’s a flexibility in how we can do things and how we can bring everybody along to the greater good of all people, rather than a system or a structure or paradigm that excludes it, because it’s not flexible enough, or we haven’t thought enough about it. So yeah,
Denia Bradshaw 57:01
that’s one thing I really, really, really, really, really, really, really love. Really, really, about UDL is the goal being to foster expert learners, it’s all about the learner. It’s not a checklist of things you do. It’s not compliance. It’s it’s about the student, which is why we’re here. Yes. And
Lillian Nave 57:24
oh, boy, we don’t want to forget that. No. So okay, my last question is sort of an aspirational question. A dreamy one. But how do you think this combination of both of these lenses really UDL and the understanding awareness of intersectionality can influence beliefs and practices in higher ed, in the wider world? This is my dream question.
Denia Bradshaw 57:57
How we could influence and think, Well, they both affirm each other. They honor various identities. They both acknowledge that the barriers have nothing to do with the person. It’s the system. It’s the practice, it’s an institution, it’s the belief it’s an intentional, it anticipates diversity, and variability. It respects it. Gosh, it’s like that’s also that’s like my biggest thing I’m grappling with to like, how the language? I think, for me, is the link having the appropriate toolbox and language to have these conversations with people that don’t understand or see what I’m or see what we’re trying to do or why we’re trying to do it. Oh, that’s just good teaching. Oh, that’s actually racist, or that, you know, again, back to the misunderstanding and lack of awareness. Gosh, it’s a tough one. I yeah, I think combining them will help a lot. I think UDL has been I think UDL as it evolves needs to have that element of intersectionality. And a lot of it too has, again, emerged or it was coined by a legal scholar, this was because of court cases and law. And in you know, like, kind of how it was unjust, and why like, why would that happen? Like, why would it get wiped? Like specifically the one the ruling with General Motors. I find that just so crazy. I find it crazy to that ADA was passed when I was a toddler. Like, this should have been done a long, long, long time ago.
Lillian Nave 1:00:20
Yeah. And it has the world has changed so much. And you know, think of the 70s. I was born during that decade, but that you couldn’t, as a woman have a credit card, you had to have a man’s permission, a husband or something. And I mean, we look at other countries right now who don’t let women drive, right. And we’re like how barbaric like this what is going on. And we don’t have to look too far back to see that we have made some rapid changes. And it was completely foreign to, I would say the general public or the majority. And now that is unthinkable that we wouldn’t let a woman have her own credit card or bank account, right without a man’s permission. And with, but I mean, it is I dream about this, as we’re moving forward, I see so many wonderful possibilities for success for all of our different students, that everybody has a chance in higher education, if they want it. I as a college professor, I’m also the first to say college isn’t for everybody, it doesn’t have to be. But if you want, you have a place. And it can be. It can be for you, we do have to tweak some things, we have to overhaul some things. But the more we understand about ourselves and our students think the more we can adapt and change, and create a world that has the strengths based talent focused love of the individual, and want to see that individuals succeed. And know that they can bring, I know my students can bring more than that I could even imagine. And they’ve shown and proven that to me time and time again. And it excites me to think about Wow, let’s dig even deeper than we have, let’s add these two lenses together. And I really think it can open up a world where we are destroying these barriers that we we didn’t even we couldn’t see before until we put those two lenses together. And then we can make it better.
Denia Bradshaw 1:02:37
And also to I mean, like we’re born into this world, right, but a lot of the these isms. We weren’t born believing that stuff. These are no social constructs conditioning. It’s a lot of unlearning, right? It’s yeah. I just That’s so like, crazy to me. Like we like nobody’s born, not liking someone different. Yeah, it’s taught.
Lillian Nave 1:03:17
Yeah, yes. And we end our systems are taught and so much that we don’t realize has been baked into the system. And yeah, the more I’m in the UDL space, and the more I’m in the kind of neurodiversity space to the more I’m able to uncover about those. There’s things that I didn’t realize I had gone along with. And you know, like the first time I like I don’t have to time a test what? Like, who told me I always had to time a test. I mean, there was that written? Was that a law? I mean, that’s just the basic that’s like, the lowest rung there of my UDL ideas coming in there. But it’s a thing like I never questioned it before. I never questioned it. And now I’m questioning those things. And so this helps me to go deeper into the things that I question about, what what barriers Am I putting up? What system Am I creating for my students? And how can I create a system where success is the real answer for all of my students, not the other things that is, is not learning like sorting and judging and all those other things that have happened in the last hundreds of years in education, I guess. Anyway, it’s just it’s still pretty new to me that I get excited about these things that we can make a change. Yeah, we can. Yeah, we can do this. We can do this.
Denia Bradshaw 1:04:52
Yes, we can. Oh, man, I’m like open to any conversation on how Continue doing this. I just know right now, like, as I’ve mentioned, I’m at this foundational part of just needing to, or knowing that people just need to understand no one’s malicious at heart. Not saying people are malicious period, I think when you really get to know someone, you, you just unpack the, I guess, as Bernie Brown would say, the armor comes off. Yeah, the armor where you wanted to protect yourself or whatever, it comes off, and it’s, we’re, yeah, you need each other. We’re interdependent on one another in this world,
Lillian Nave 1:05:43
we do. And I think you’re, you know, the workshop that I saw you put together I think is really, really helpful. And I think if faculty, if folks in higher ed, have a chance to go through that, you know, going through UDL and intersectionality, and have some time, I really love the way you include a lot of reflection in that workshop, and have people take the time to do that early design work, collect some of that hard work in the beginning, it makes the class so much better, it makes the experience easier in the end, that you’re defusing all of these possible roadblocks ahead of time. And so, you know, I will have all of your contact information if people want to say, hey, we need this, we’d love to talk to you and have this at our university. You can zoom in on up or, or whatever, but that whatever you can do, but I found it super valuable. I wanted to have folks hear about these two things and kind of it’s not UDL 1.0 It’s, I don’t know, UDL 7.0 Or maybe, I don’t know, it’s it’s the deep thinking that we need to be doing. And for a successful outcome, I should say. So thank you. Thank you so much for your time.
Denia Bradshaw 1:07:08
Thank you, and thank you for your podcast. And this is so I mean, when I dove deep into the Udo, I found this and I was like I struck.
Lillian Nave 1:07:21
I’m glad it’s a helpful resource. And that’s what it’s for. Again, I started the podcast to bring up the chatter. So if more people know more people can know that there are ways to increase success, make successful learners and take down the barriers that have kept some really amazing students from being successful. So let’s let’s keep it up. Thank you so much. You can follow the Think UDL podcast on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to find out when new episodes will be released. And also see transcripts and additional materials at the think udl.org website. Thank you again to our sponsor, Texthelp Texthelp is focused on helping all people learn, understand and communicate through the use of digital education and accessibility tools. Texthelp and its people are working towards a world where difference, disability or language are no longer barriers to learning and succeeding, with over 50 million users worldwide. The Texthelp suite of products include Read and Write equates to an orbit note, which work alongside existing platforms such as Microsoft Office and G Suite, enabling them to be integrated quickly into any classroom or workspace with ease. Texthelp has changed the lives of millions worldwide, and strives to impact the literacy and understanding of 1 billion people by 2030. Additional support for the podcast is made possible by Appalachian State University where if you call it Appalachian, I’ll throw in Appalachia. The music on the podcast was performed by the Odyssey quartet comprised of Rex Shepherd, David Pate, Bill Folwell and Jose Cochez an I am your host, Lillian Nave. Thank you for joining us on The think UDL podcast