Faculty and Staff Contributions

Joe Wilferth

Associate Dean & UC Foundation English Professor College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Wilferth has been recently published in The Writing Instructor, a networked journal and digital community for writers and teachers of writing, with an article entitled "Training in Multimodal Technologies Requires Training in Assistive Technologies".

Article: "Training in Multimodal Technologies..."

Tom Buggey

UTC School of Education, Siskin/UTC Chair of Excellence 

Dr. Buggey’s line of research on video self-modeling has had great impact on the field especially as it deals with children with autism. They have had some remarkable success with this group including reduction of tantrums, improved language production, better eating skills, and increased social initiations. Presently, all of his research is being carried out at the Siskin Children's Institute. This spring the study will involve 4 yr olds with Down Syndrome. The children are speaking in one word utterances (with one saying nothing without prompting). He will get them to imitate words which we will record on video. He will then combine individual words into short sentences using video editing software. Then the children will watch themselves and serve as their own models.

Update: The 2013/2014 focused on play initiations of children with autism and getting children presently using walkers and gait trainers to walk independently.

Ralph Covino

Assistant Professor, Department of History

Dr. Covino is a contributing author in a proposed edited collection of essays relating disabilities to science fiction. The working title for this collection is Technology as Cure? Representations of Disability in Science Fiction.

Update: This proposed book has been accepted and published, including Dr. Covino's essay, "Star Wars, Limb-loss, and What it Means to be Human."

Brief Book Description

Technology is often characterized as a cure for the disabled body – one that either elides or exacerbates corporeal difference. From block buster films and televised space operas to cyberpunk and hard SF, disabled bodies are often modified and supported by technological interventions. In this edited collection, 12 scholars – with backgrounds in disability studies, English and world literature, classics, and history – discuss the ways that dis/ability, medical “cures,” technology, and the body are theorized, materialized, and politicized in science fiction. In addition to establishing a discussion between the fields of disability studies and science fiction, this collection is particularly interested in (1) the ways dis/abled bodies use prosthetics to challenge normative discourses of ability and generate novel spaces of embodiment and (2) proliferate new understandings of what constitutes “cure” for (post)human being. To date, there is surprisingly little published critical work on disability in science fiction and this collection would be the first published collection of essays in the field.

Note: Several of the contributors identify as persons with disabilities.

Leslie Jensen-Inman

Assistant Professor, Department of Art

Leslie wrote an article on the use of color and the contribution to web accessibility. Click here for the article.

Leslie also teaches a great deal about web accessibility in her course titled Web Media 2.

Tom Buchanan

Associate professor, previous head, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Geography

Dr. Buchanan has written two articles pertaining to Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. These articles have been published in two celebrated professional journals. The citations for these articles are as follows:
Buchanan, Tom. 2011. “Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Well-being: Is
Social Impairment an Issue for College Students with ADHD?" Journal of Post-Secondary Education and Disability 24:193-210.

Buchanan, Tom, Matt St. Charles, Michelle Rigler, and Charles Hart. 2010. “Why are
Older Faculty Members More Accepting of Students with Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ? A Life-course Interpretation.” The International Journal of Disability Development and Education 57:351-369.

Dr. Buchanan also serves on the Attention Deficit Disorder Association’s (ADDA) College Committee. He was invited on this committee as a result of the above research. Among other things, we are working on a national survey of OSDs. 

Sandy Watson

Associate Professor (UTEACH)

Dr. Watson has completed significant research in the area of disability awareness. She has published several articles in well known, professional journals. Those article citations are as follows:
Watson, S. & Johnston, L. (2004). Teaching Science to the Visually Impaired. The Science Teacher, 71(6).
Watson, S. & Johnston, L. (2006). Tolerance in teacher education: Restructuring the curriculum. Multicultural Education, 13(3).
Watson, S. & Johnston, L. (2007). Assistive Technology in the Inclusive Science Classroom. The Science Teacher, 30(6). http://www.nsta.org/publications/news/story.aspx?id=53489

Debbie Ingram

UT Foundation Professor, Department of Physical Therapy

Dr. Ingram presented a study at the national meeting that addressed the accommodations given on the National PT Examination (10 year review from 2000-2009). The purpose of the project was to describe the types and costs of reasonable accommodations granted to candidates with disabilities taking the National Physical Therapy Examinations (PT and PTA) during the years 2000-2009.

Susan Ritz

Assistant Director for Strategic Planning in Assessment

Dr. Ritz co-authored a paper related to women with disabilities. She conducted a content analysis to examine the extent to which topics concerning women with disabilities were present in mainstream psychological research and theory. Her research found that women with disabilities were “virtually invisible” in mainstream psychological research and theory. The citation is as follows:
Quinlin, K., Bowleg, L., & Ritz, S. F. (2008). Virtually invisible women: Women with disabilities in mainstream psychological research and theory. Review of Disability Studies, 4(3), 4-17.

Ed McMahon

Professor, Department of Engineering and Computer Science

Dr. McMahon has an ongoing commitment to the concept of Universal Design. In addition, he has begun work on a concept of a center for social innovation that would focus on the aging and persons with disabilities. The summary of the proposed effort is as follows:

To develop an open innovation design community based on practicing professionals, faculty, and students at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, who will: identify opportunities and needs from the customer’s point-of-view; develop design concepts that will improve the life experience of these customers; develop prototypes of products, processes, or systems; define the business case; and develop partnerships to implement the concepts. 

It is proposed that a design community be created to provide a path for multidisciplinary teams and experts work together, using an open innovation model, to enhance the lives of the aging population and persons with disabilities within the greater Chattanooga region. “Open innovation is the bridging of internal and external resources and acting on those opportunities to make innovation happen” (1) The proposed open innovation design community would be composed of three resource groups: 1) external experts and service providers consisting of local experts and service providers and in the future not be limited geographically: 2) a multidisciplinary group of faculty at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga drawing from the fields of engineering, business, sociology and anthropology, nursing, education, physical therapy, social work, computer science, and health and human performance : 3) students, selected from various disciplines within the UTC community, will use the center as a source of student research and service projects. The open innovation paradigm will be used to develop the full innovation potential based on these the internal and external resources. 

Cecilia Wigal

UC Foundation Professor and Assistant Dean Department of Engineering and Computer Science

Dr. Wigal has developed ENGR 1850 in such a way that all students (in groups) complete a design project to assist a special needs student. She's been doing this for a few years, and they have even done some projects with the higher level design courses. This developed partnership has been vital in the development of Assistive Technology that has helped a great number of students with special needs.

Deborah Hyde

Business Manager in Academic Affairs

Deborah has been the Treasurer of the Chattanooga Down Syndrome Society for the last two years. The Chattanooga Down Syndrome Society provides resources, education, advocacy, community and help (REACH) to those touched by Down syndrome. Last year she successfully applied for a grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga that allowed CDSS to provide all area hospitals and women’s centers with “New Parent Packets” for new parents of a child with Down syndrome. These packets, developed by the National Down Syndrome Society, contained all of the medical and developmental information a family needs to know in the first year of life of their infant with Down syndrome. CDSS has developed an insert packet that contains all of the local resources available to a family as well as tools for financial planning, working with the school system, connecting with other families, purchasing relevant books, etc. These packets are vital to families who welcome a new child with Down syndrome, because this information isn’t provided by any other organization. 

Jennifer T. Ellis

Assistant Professor, School of Education

Dr. Ellis is currently a faculty associate for the Center for Research on Collaboratories and Technology Enhanced Learning Communities (COTELCO). She serves as the co-chair for the faculty evaluation committee for the Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP) for the ASEAN Region, which provides graduate education programs, support services, research, and policy development by/for/with people with disabilities. Click here to visit the program.

Lisa Burke

Professor, College of Business

Dr. Burke collaborated with Dr. John Friedl in Political Science and Michelle Rigler to write a relevant article about the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act. This article was published in a well read, professional journal. The citation is as follows:

Burke, L. A., Friedl, J., & Rigler, M. (2010). The 2008 Amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act: Implications for Student Affairs Practitioners. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 47 (1), 1–15.

Sara Jahansouz

Assistant Dean of Students

Sara has been working with the Fraternity/Sorority Scholarship Chairs to ensure that accommodations are made for students that have different study needs to fulfill study hall requirements for fraternity/sorority membership. In addition, Sara has worked diligently to insure that that recruitment process for the Greek system is accessible to all students. 

Zibin Guo

UC Foundation Professor of Anthropology

In 2008, the wheelchair Tai Chi program Professor Zibin Guo developed was first featured at the 2008 Paralympics. Since then it has not only become a part of national health promotion programs in China, but it also has been adapted in various rehab and self care settings throughout the world.

Awards Received on the Work of Developing and Promoting Wheelchair Tai Chi Chuan

1. “Health Researcher of the Year” – Taijiquan Enthusiasts Choice Awards Health & Martial Arts Festival & Symposium (2011).

2. “Love Award” - The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (2009).

3. “Appreciation for Contribution”. 29th Olympics Committee, 2009.

4. “Most Innovative Special Populations Research Award”- 2009 International

Tai Chi Chuan Symposium at Vanderbilt University.

Presentations and workshops conducted on the health and rehab implications of wheelchair/seated Tai Chi Chuan 

2011 “Seated Tai Chi for Persons with SCI” – Invited presentation at Conference on Acute and Chronic Management & Promising Research. Asheville, NC.

2011 “Seated Taijiquan for Everybody”. Invited workshop at Southeast Aging and Disability Training Conference. Memphis, TN.

2010 Guo, Z. “Dancing in the Chair: The Implications of Wheelchair Tai Chi Chuan”  American Anthropological Association Annual Conference. New Orleans, LA.             

2010 Guo, Z. “Dancing in the Chair: The Promotion of Wheelchair Tai Chi Chuan”, Society for Disability Studies Annual Conference. Philadelphia, PA.

2010 Fell, N,; Guo.; Secrest, J.; Haban, G.  Seated Tai Ji for Women with Non-Functional Ambulation: A Case Series.  American Physical Therapy Annual Conference.  Boston, MA.

2009 “Seated tai Chi for rehabilitation” Invited by Michigan Therapeutic Recreation Association, conducted a training workshop for therapists on applying seated Tai Chi program to therapeutic intervention. 

2009 “Dancing in the Chair – Seated tai Chi for Rehabilitation” Invited by American Therapeutic Recreation Association, conducted a training workshop for therapists on integrating seated Tai Chi program with the therapeutic intervention. Minneapolis, MN

2009 Collaborated with Area Agency on Aging and Disability, conducted a seated TaiJi instructor’s training workshop for health care providers from area nursing homes, senior centers and assisted living facilities. Chattanooga, TN.

2009 “Rising from Stillness- 13 Moves of Wheelchair Tai Chi Chuan” Invited Presentation at International Tai Chi Symposium.  Vanderbilt University, TN.

Recent Publications on Disability

2012 Guo, Z. “Thirteen Postures of Wheelchair Taijiquan (Tai Chi): Wheelchair Use as an Instrument of Empowerment”, Journal of Technology and Innovation – Proceedings of the National Academy of Inventors.  13(4), Pp. 267-279.

2010 Guo, Z.; and Yuyang Zang.  “Dancing in the Chair: Wheelchair Taijiquan for People with Ambulatory Impairment”, International Journal of Disability, Community & Rehabilitation, 9(1). Click here for article.

2009 Guo, Z.  “Seated Tai Chi Chuan for Ambulatory Difficulty”, Acupuncture Today, 10 (10), Pp1 & 37.

Media Coverage on the Wheelchair Tai Chi  

NPR News, 2009 “Taking Wheelchair Tai Chi To China”, NPR Health blog, May 2009.


“Wheelchair Tai Chi” American Fitness, 27(6): 48, 2009.

“Wheelchair Tai Chi” Rehab & Community Care Medicine 18(2):18-19, 2009

“Professor Promotes Seated Tai Chi for Wheelchair Users”, Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 35(8): 9, 2009.

“Wheelchair Tai Chi”, Consumer Report on Health; 21(9): 3. 2009.

“Wheelchair Tai Chi”, Natural Solutions, Oct. 2009, Pp. 22.

“News & Know How”, Club Business of International, Sept. 2009, Pp. 15. 

“Faculty Research”, Chattanooga Today (A publication for Alumni of The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga”.  Summer 2009, Pp. 12.

“New Hope with Tai Chi” Tennessee Alumnus, Spring 2009; Pp.20-21.

“Wheelchair Taiji Featured at Beijing Paralympics”, The International Magazine of Tai Chi  Chuan, 33(1): 6-11, 2009.

“Zibin Guo Develops Wheelchair Tai Chi – a mind and body healing method” Disability in China, 3: 26-27, 2008. 

“Nueva Actividad En Los Jusegos Paralimpicos Tai Chi En Silla De Ruedas" Gratuita elportavoz  2(4): 19-20, 2008.

"The Promoter of Wheelchair Tai Ji” Beijing Olympic Times, 3: 70-71, 2008.