Understanding Disability through Mass Media

DisabilityRights equal

Understanding Disability Through Mass Media
5-7:40  p.m. Thursdays, synchronous online

Fall 2020

Instructor: Prof. Beth Haller, Ph.D.
E-mail: bhaller@towson.edu
Web page: https://bethhaller.wordpress.com/

Office Hours: Online via Webex or Zoom. Feel free to send me an E-mail messages if you want to talk on the phone or via video chat.

Course Description: An overview of how mass media frames disability for the general public. This course focuses on issues related to disability and mass media representation, including journalism, TV, film, advertising, photography, documentary, comic art and the Internet. This is a combined course that includes students going into health professions, mass communication students, and AADS minors.

Course Objectives:
1. Examine and expand understanding of media impact on the historical, cultural, medical, and social issues related to disability;
2. Differentiate between the various disability models, as well as specific models of media representation of disability;
3. Introduction to disability media, i.e. content created by and for people with disabilities;
4. Compare and contrast the lived experiences of disabled people against mass mediated representations;
5. Look at news about disability rights in U.S. society, what is and isn’t covered;
6. Use various analysis techniques to research the prevalence and meaning of mediated disability representations.

Statement on political aspects of AADS 310/MCOM 310:

The goal of this course is to explore how the media represents the lived experiences of individuals with disabilities, as well as how disability issues are presented to the public. To this end, we highlight ableism – discrimination against citizens with disabilities — and the social model, which explains that society disables people with disabilities through its lack of access/social support, negative attitudes, and barriers to participation that nondisabled people enjoy. Students will learn about the possible sources or origins of this discrimination, as well as steps that might remedy disparities in education, healthcare, and community life. As part of the learning process, students are exposed to many viewpoints, including viewpoints that traditionally do not receive equivalent attention and may be unfamiliar. While drawing their own conclusions about disability and diversity issues, students are expected to approach the subject matter in a spirit of open inquiry and to demonstrate a willingness to examine disability and diversity issues through a social justice lens.

Nature of Course Content:

This course requires students to consider society’s views on disability, which are often negative and ableist. Students are asked to examine and discuss their own biases, assumptions, evolution in thinking, and experiences. This type of analysis and self-reflection can at times be uncomfortable or emotionally intense. Media content and discussion in the course will introduce students to a wide range of opinions and lifestyles, much of which you may never have considered. The rewards of this learning are many, in terms of academic knowledge, personal growth, and preparation for adult life in a pluralistic democracy – a democracy that includes citizens with disabilities. Students who have concerns about their readiness for exposure to course content should carefully consider their registration in the course. Students may contact Professor Haller with any questions at bhaller@towson.edu.

Recommended Books and Course Materials:

  • Beth Haller, Representing Disability in an Ableist World (Advocado Press, 2010) on reserve in Cook Library.
  • Other readings given as handouts, posted on Blackboard or available online

Note: All papers should use the American Psychological Association (APA) style. For examples of types of APA references, visit             http://www.apastyle.org/learn/index.aspx?tab=2.

  1. Discussion Posts/Attendance/Reading Responses: (25%)
    This class is designed with some lecture and a good deal of class discussion, so your active participation is crucial. In order to be prepared, take time to read closely, and come to class with questions and comments about the material. Please make every effort to attend class and arrive on time because you will be required to provide written responses to all in-class screenings. Contact me in advance if you MUST miss class. For Blackboard discussions, you will read materials and view screenings on your own then discuss in the designated Blackboard forum.

Reading responses allow you to engage with the assigned material, develop critical reading and writing skills, and prepare for discussions. You will be asked to complete three responses (2½- 3 pages -750-1,000 words – double-spaced, 12 pt. font). Responses should address a key issue or theme developed in the readings from that section. I will distribute prompts, but you are encouraged to create your own topic. Exceptional responses will develop an interesting argument, put multiple readings in discussion with each other, and effectively integrate at least three quotes cited from at least three course materials; include a reference list of all sources, both readings and screenings used. Due dates are listed in the syllabus.

Rubric for reading responses:

Grade Quality Relevance Grammar/Spelling/APA Style
90 – 100

(“A” & “A-”)

The paper represents a thoughtful reflection on disability and media. It is creative and substantive and demonstrates excellence in its discussion of the topic. The paper illustrates new ways of thinking about disability and the media and used 3 or more direct quotes from 3+ reading materials/screenings to support that content. APA reference list required. The paper clearly demonstrates a deep understanding of disability and media content and relevance to Disability Studies. The paper is interesting, compelling and well organized. It has no spelling or grammatical errors. The work displayed is interesting and varied, incorporating the required number of examples from course readings/screenings. Assignment checklist is followed and attached.
80 – 89

(“B+”,”B”, & “B-”)

The paper demonstrates a thoughtful response; however, required examples from readings/screenings are missing or inaccurate. Personal reflections are not as compelling or interesting as they could be. Only 1-2 direct quotes from less than 3 readings/screenings are used. The paper demonstrates a somewhat superficial connection between disability and the media. The paper is well organized, but has minor errors in grammar, spelling, required format, or APA style. Assignment checklist is not followed.
70 – 79

(“C+” & “C”)

The paper does not clearly demonstrate a connection between disability and the media or to Disability Studies. Personal reflections are missing or superficial. No direct quotes from readings/screenings are used. The paper’s content is not relevant to the topic of disability and the media. Content is unclear or not well developed. The paper is disorganized, has serious errors in grammar, spelling, APA style, or required format. It is not compelling to the reader and does not have required examples or references. Assignment checklist is not followed or attached.
60 – 69

(“D+” & “D”)

The paper is off topic and not connected to disability and the media. No quotes or paraphrases from readings/screenings are used. The paper uses no relevant course readings or screenings. The paper meets few of the requirements for the assignment. Assignment checklist is not followed or attached.
Below 60 (“F”)* Sections are missing, or issues of academic honesty or integrity are involved.
  1. Disability blog analysis PowerPoint: (20%)

Disability blogs for each student

Blog name Student assigned
A Typical Son, http://atypicalson.com/
Autistic Hoya, http://www.autistichoya.com/
Brainless Blogger, https://brainlessblogger.net/ (Canada)
CanCanOnWheelz, https://www.candiswelch.com/blog
Chronic Babe, https://www.chronicbabe.com/blog/
Claiming Crip, http://www.claimingcrip.blogspot.com/
Crutches & Spice, https://crutchesandspice.com/
Curb Free with Cory Lee, https://www.curbfreewithcorylee.com/
Despite Lupus, http://despitelupus.blogspot.com/
The Geeky Gimp, https://geekygimp.com/
Intersected, http://intersecteddisability.blogspot.com/
Kathie Comments, https://kathiecomments.wordpress.com/
Little Miss Turtle, http://www.littlemissturtle.com/blog/
Meriah Nichols, http://www.meriahnichols.com/
Oh, Twist, http://ohtwist.com/blog
Ouch: Disability Talk, http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/ (UK)
Paginated Thoughts, https://kpagination.wordpress.com/
Picnic with Ants, https://picnicwithants.com/
Rooted in Rights blog, https://rootedinrights.org/category/posts/
Slow Walkers See More, https://slowwalkersseemore.wordpress.com/
The Active Amputee, https://www.theactiveamputee.org/blog/
The Squeaky Wheelchair, http://thesqueakywheelchair.blogspot.com/
Tales from the Crip, https://talesfromthecrip.org/
That Crazy Crippled Chick, http://thatcrazycrippledchick.com/
Uncomfortable Revolution, https://www.urevolution.com/
Where’s Waldman, https://whereswaldman.wordpress.com/
Words I Wheel By, http://wordsiwheelby.com/blog/

Read all the articles from this special issue of Disability Studies Quarterly on Disability Blogging and incorporate at least 2 of them into your final PowerPoint.

DSQ Special Issue on Disability Blogging, http://dsq-sds.org/issue/view/1:

·         “Editor’s Introduction,” by Stephen Kuusisto·         “Performance and digital communication,” by Scott Rains

·         “Blogging brings more of us to the table,” by The Goldfish

·         “Wheelie Catholic,” by Ruth Harrigan

·         “Get Around Guide,” by Darren Hillock

·         “Making Connections: Linkages Through Disability Blogging,” by Kay Olson/ Blue

·         “In Other Words: The radical nature of telling stories through blogging,” by Alicia “Kestrell” Verlager

·         “A Dialog,” by Wheelchair Dancer

·         “Wheelchair Princess,” by Emma Crees

·         “Say it Ain’t So,” by Stephen Kuusisto

What the final PowerPoint analysis should include:

  • Explain what model(s) or perspectives on disability the blog posts appear to operate under.
  • What seems to be the bloggers’ perspectives toward disability, toward people with disabilities? How do you know?
  • Be sure to support your argument with specific references to individual blog posts and the date of entries.
  • Who are the sites’ intended audience? Who are they seeking to reach?
  • Based on the blogger biographies, what are their backgrounds and how does that seem to influence blog content?
  • What are your group’s reactions and reflections on the blogs? Please make the presentation a cohesive whole, discussing how your group of blogs are similar or different.
  • How do the blogs your group analyzed reflect the perspectives in the DSQ essays about disability blogging? (Include references to at least 5 DSQ articles about disability blogging)
  • Discuss the possible larger societal impact of the blogs.
  • Your presentation should include a 10+ slide PowerPoint with screen grabs from each blog site discussed.
  • Each group will email me their final PowerPoint and I will post it on Blackboard. In the last slides, each PP should have a reference list of everything you used. (Cite each blog post separately.)

Group discussion forum: Each individual student will create a PowerPoint about their blog and then groups of 4-6 students will comment and discuss disability blogging in a Blackboard discussion forum.

  1. Audio description script/discussion (20 percent)

Your audio description script should follow this example of a timed script:  http://www.adlabproject.eu/Docs/adlab%20book/index.html#example-ad

1. Watch the Smith-Kettlewell video description tutorials 1-7:

2. Read at least 3 of these articles about audio description. You will need to incorporate 3 direct quotes from these articles in your 300-word discussion paper.

3. Select your 3-minute clip of a fictional TV show or film from YouTube. Do not audio describe a movie trailer (too much going on). I recommend finding a scene in the middle of the TV show or film that has both action and dialogue. Remember you are writing this script so a blind person knows what is going on when there is no dialogue.

4. I highly recommend looking at multiple clips before you select the one you will describe. The best thing to do is listen to the clip with your eyes closed. That way you can judge if there is too much dialogue so no space for audio description or too little dialogue so you have to describe everything. Here are the two audio described clips we watched in class to remind you of about no dialogue audio description:

5. You will need to play your 3-minute clip over and over to figure out where there is no dialogue so you can describe what is happening between the dialogue. You will also need to write down the dialogue for your script as well.

6. Write your audio description (AD) script with the times each dialogue and AD happens. For example, if you only have 3 seconds between dialogue, there is no time to audio describe but if there is 10 seconds, you have time to describe something important in the scene.

7. Write your 300-word discussion/reaction paper with 3 direct quotes from the readings. Mostly this will be your reaction to this assignment. Audio description is an important access tool for people who are blind or visually impaired, who want to enjoy TV and films just like everyone else.  Discuss what you learned, the challenge of creating the script, new ways you may think about accessible media now, etc.

Do you need another example of audio description to get you started? Here’s an audio-described scene from the original “Lion King:”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jT5AsjzgIC4

(Note: Please let me know if you have a visual impairment that prevents you from doing this assignment. You will be assigned a captioning assignment instead.)

  1. Lived Disability Experience vs. the Media Paper (35%)
  • You will read one of the memoirs of a disabled person listed below and write a paper that compares and contrasts the person’s actual experience with that disability versus the representation of that disability in the news and entertainment media.
  • Using the memoir as a foundational text, you will be expected to find at least 9 additional sources to inform the paper. These include: scholarly disability studies essays from Disability Studies Quarterly; materials from an activist disability blog or alternative disability media source; popular cultural representations; and news stories about a related disability topic (You may use up to 5 readings from the course readings).
  • This paper will have 10 sources total in an APA-style reference list at the end of the paper.
  • Drawing upon all these readings, you should develop a coherent analysis of the media presentation of disability, as it does or does not reflect a person’s lived experience with a disability as discussed in the memoir.
  • This 1,000-1,200 word paper should use the memoir as a lens from which to compare and contrast popular cultural representations of disability in news, TV, film, etc.

In case you can’t or don’t want a print version of the memoir, Cook librarians Claire Holmes and Joyce Garczynski put together the following list of the e-book version. Audiobooks were already listed.

Zach Anner, If at Birth You Don’t Succeed (Henry Holt, 2016). http://ifatbirthyoudontsucceed.com/ (audiobook available)

Keah Brown, The Pretty One (Atria Books, 2019).  https://keahbrown.com/pretty-one/ (audiobook available)

John Callahan, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot: The Autobiography of a Dangerous Man. (Vintage Books, 1989). http://www.graphicmedicine.org/comic-reviews/dont-worry-he-wont-get-far-on-foot/ (audiobook available)

Kevin Michael Connolly, Double Take (HarperCollins, 2009).  http://kevinmichaelconnolly.com/double-take/ (audiobook available)

Carly Findlay, Say Hellohttps://carlyfindlay.com.au/sayhello/

Ellen Forney, Marbles (Avery, 2012). http://marblesbyellenforney.com/

Matt Freedman, Relatively Indolent but Relentless (Seven Stories, 2014).  http://www.graphicmedicine.org/comic-reviews/relatively-indolent-but-relentless-a-cancer-treatment-journal/

Kenny Fries, Body, Remember (Dutton, 1997).  http://www.kennyfries.com/works/bodyremember.html

Terry Galloway, Mean Little Deaf Queer (Beacon Press, 2009).  http://www.beacon.org/Mean-Little-deaf-Queer-P817.aspx (in Cook Library & audiobook available)

Haben Girma, Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law. (Twelve, 2019). https://habengirma.com/book/ (in Cook Library & audiobook available)

Temple Grandin, Thinking in Pictures (Doubleday, 1995). https://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Pictures-Expanded-Life-Autism/dp/0307275655 (audiobook available)

Lucy Grealy, Autobiography of a Face (Houghton Mifflin, 1994).  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/autobiography-of-a-face-lucy-grealy/1100623299#/ (audiobook available)

Naoki Higashida, The Reason I Jump (Random House, 2013) (in Cook Library) http://thereasonijump.com/ (audiobook available)

Robert Hoge, Ugly (Hatchette Australia, 2015).
·       Ebook available through Google Play 

Nadina LaSpina,  Such a Pretty Girl (NYU Press, 2019). https://nyupress.org/9781613320990/such-a-pretty-girl/
·       ​Kindle edition available through Amazon

Harriet McBryde Johnson, Too Late To Die Young (Picador, 2006). https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780312425715
·       Ebook available from Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Harriet_McBryde_Johnson_Too_Late_to_Die_Young?id=n1F5ehsrdToC

Merri Lisa Johnson, Girl in need of a tourniquet (Seal Press, 2010). http://www.merrilisajohnson.com/ (audiobook available)
·       Ebook available from Google Play   https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Merri_Lisa_Johnson_Girl_in_Need_of_a_Tourniquet?id=A9dVauou4ykC
· Kindle edition available through Amazon

Stephen Kuusisto, Planet of the Blind (Dial Press, 1997).  https://stephenkuusisto.com/planet-of-the-blind/ (audiobook available)   E-book available through Rakuten https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/planet-of-the-blind

Simi Linton, My Body Politic (University of Michigan Press, 2006). http://www.similinton.com/mbp.htm.
E-book available through Rakuten https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/my-body-politic
· Kindle edition available through Amazon

Jonathan Mooney, The Short Bus. A journey beyond normal (Holt, 2008). https://www.jonathanmooney.com/team-member/shortbus
·       ​Kindle edition available through Amazon. E-book available through Rakuten https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-short-bus

Martin Pistorius, Ghost Boy (Thomas Nelson, 2013) http://www.ghostboybook.com/ (audiobook available)      E-book available through Rakuten  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/ghost-boy-3

· Kindle edition available through Amazon

Sarah Reinertsen,In a Single Bound: Losing My Leg, Finding Myself, and Training for Life (Lyons Press, 2010) https://www.alwaystri.com/my-book/
       Ebook available from Google Play   https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Sarah_Reinertsen_In_a_Single_Bound?id=mg7wgWMjtSgC

Harilyn Russo, Don’t Call Me Inspirational: A Disabled Feminist Talks Back (Temple University Press, 2013). http://www.temple.edu/tempress/titles/2235_reg.html

· Kindle edition available through Amazon

E-book available through Rakuten  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/don-t-call-me-inspirational

Elyn Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness (Hyperion, 2007). http://hyperionbooks.com/book/the-center-cannot-hold-my-journey-through-madness/ (audiobook available)
E-book available through Rakuten  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/audiobook/the-center-cannot-hold-5
· ​Kindle edition available through Amazon.


  • Attendance/Discussion Forums/Reading Responses: 25%
  • Audio description assignment: 20%
  • Disability blogging PowerPoint/small group discussion: 20%
  • Disability Experience vs. the Media Paper: 35%

Grading criteria for written assignments and course in general: (Whenever written assignments are given, I expect you all to produce the best written work of which you are capable.)

90 – 100 (“A” & “A-“) On the written assignments, this means the paper is clear, organized coherently, and well-written. It is an effective discussion of the topic. It has no spelling, grammar, format, or accuracy errors. In terms of the course, this means you have almost perfect attendance, scores in this range on assignments, and have good questions and discussion in class.

80 – 89 (“B+”, “B” & “B-“) On the written assignments, the paper is cohesive and well-organized, although it may have some minor spelling or grammatical errors. The discussion covers almost all of the important information and follows proper format. In terms of the course, this means you have good attendance, scores in this range on assignments, and have good questions and discussion in class.

70 – 79 (“C+” & “C”) On the written assignments, the paper is disorganized and contains many minor errors. The discussion missed some pertinent information or does not follow proper format. In terms of the course, this means you have poor attendance, scored in this range on assignments, and have not participated in class discussions.

60 – 69 (“D”) On the written assignments, the paper ineffectively discusses the topic; it is not coherent or understandable. It contains an unacceptable number of spelling, grammar errors and/or inaccurate information or does not follow proper format. In terms of the course, this means you have missed more classes than you have attended, scored in this range on assignments, and have not participated in class discussions.

Below 60 (“F”)* The paper contains major factual error(s) related to the topic. The information presented is completely incorrect. The paper does not meet the requirements in page length, focus, or format. In terms of the course, this means you have missed more classes than you have attended, scored in this range on assignments, and have not participated in class discussions. If you are caught cheating in any way, you will automatically receive an F in the course.

(“FX”)* This is an administrative failure for non-attendance or failure to withdraw. If you do not withdraw from the course by Towson’s preset deadlines for the semester and stop attending the class, this is the grade you will receive.

(“I”) Incomplete. At Towson University, students may only receive an Incomplete with “verifiable circumstances” and “where students have completed most of the term” (Towson University Undergraduate Catalog). I recommend a medical withdrawal over an incomplete.

* If you receive an F or FX, you may only repeat the course once. After repeating the course, students will only receive credit for the course once and the highest of the grades will be calculated. The lower grade will remain on the transcript with an “R” before it to indicate the course was repeated. For the transcript to reflect the repeated course, students MUST submit a Repeated Course Form to the Records Office. Transcript adjustments are NOT automatic (Towson University Undergraduate Catalog).

Guidelines for all assignments
* No late papers will be accepted after the last day of the semester’s classes.
* Any late papers will lose points for each day they are late.
* Do not plagiarize, fabricate, or submit work you have done for another class. Cite all sources in your paper correctly. If you cut and paste material from the Internet without quote marks or a citation, that is plagiarism. If you paraphrase another’s material, make sure to properly cite the source.

Academic Dishonesty:
I do not tolerate plagiarism or fabrication of any kind. You should adhere to the University’s policy on cheating and plagiarism. If you are caught breaking this policy, you will be prosecuted to the full extent that the policy allows. You should adhere to the highest possible standards of ethical behavior for this class.

  • All assignments must be typed in the form requested and should contain your name, the date, and the assignment topic in the upper left-hand corner. (No folders or binders are necessary for assignments. Just staple the pages together.)
  • Follow the rubrics for each assignment carefully.
  • Proofread and correctly edit your papers!

Student Athletes: You must have a letter from the coach explaining your place on the team and a schedule of any away games or competitions during the semester. You must take any tests and prepare any assignments that conflict with this schedule before the test or due date, not after.

Assignment Due Date
Reading Response 1 (750-1,000 words) Due in Class Feb. 20
Reading Response 2 (750-1,000 words) Due on Blackboard March 24
Disability Blog Analysis March 26
Audio description script for 3-minute clip from an entertainment TV or film video/reflection paper April 23
Reading Response 3 (750-1,000 words) April 30
Disability memoir/lived experience/media paper (1,500-2,000 words) May 14

crippen barriers cartoon

Readings and assignment schedule
(Note 2: If there is no link or book for a reading, it will be posted on Blackboard.)


Class meeting, August 27: Models of representation & disability/ableism

Last day of add/drops is now August 30




Class meeting Sept. 3: Supercrips, inspiration & the Paralympics




Class meeting Feb. 13: The power of online media to frame physical disabilities & hidden disabilities/chronic illnesses




Class meeting Feb. 20: Representations of autism

Reading Response 1 Due 


Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, http://www.autisticadvocacy.org/
WrongPlanet.net, www.wrongplanet.net



Class meeting Feb. 27: Analyzing news about disability




Class meeting March 5: Advertising




March 12: Imagery

 Class on Blackboard; Reading Response 2 due via Blackboard




Spring Break, March 15-22 (No class March 19)


Class meeting March 26 on Blackboard: Group presentations about disability blog/social media. Individual papers due.


Class April 2 on Blackboard: Authentic media vs. disability mimicry




Note: April 6 is the last day to withdraw from the full semester with a W.

The Discussion Forums on Blackboard will take the place of the in-class screening responses. This is part of the 25% of your grade for Discussion Posts/Active Class Discussion/In-Class Screening Responses/Reading Responses.

Discussion Forum Topic Date you should discuss by
Stock photos April 9
Read an article in New Mobility April 9
“Code of the Freaks” (18 min.) April 9
“Guest Room” (13 min.) April 9
“My Dad Matthew” (6 min.) April 16
“My Gimpy Life” (Episodes 1-3 – 21.16 min. total) April 16
RJ Mitte from “Breaking Bad” (3.23 min.) April 16
Josh Blue, winner of “Last Comic Standing” (9 min.) April 23
Lost Voice Guy on “Britain’s Got Talent” (5 min.) April 23
Making video games accessible (4 videos that total 18 min. ) April 30
Xbox Accessible Controller (2 videos that total 5.53 min.) April 30
Disabled video game characters (6 min.) April 30


April 23: Creating accessible media

Audio description paper due on Blackboard

Discussion of audio description assignment with Donna Mack via Zoom, who is a blind Texan who consults on website accessibility and is an active audio description user.


April 30: Entertainment TV and humor discussion on Blackboard

Reading Response 3 due on Blackboard




April 30: Video games (access & representation) discussion on Blackboard

Readings (Access):

Readings (Representation):



May 14: Final papers due on Blackboard


Academic Integrity Policy

All student work including assignments, presentations, and tests must adhere to the university’s Student Academic Integrity Policy http://towson.edu/studentaffairs/policies/. The policy addresses such academic integrity issues as plagiarism, fabrication, falsification, cheating, complicity in dishonesty, abuse of academic materials, and multiple submissions. See the last page of this syllabus for the department’s policy concerning plagiarism and cheating. Penalties to violation of academic integrity ranges from F for the assignment to F for the course, in addition to a report filed in the Office of Student Conduct and Civility Education.

COFAC Civility Code and classroom behavior

COFAC places a priority on learning. We value the inherent worth and dignity of every person, thereby fostering a community of mutual respect. Students have the right to a learning environment free of disruptive behaviors and offensive comments. Faculty have the right to define appropriate behavioral expectations in the classroom and expect students to abide by them. Faculty have the responsibility to manage and address classroom disruption. Staff have the right and responsibility to define appropriate behaviors necessary to conduct any university activity free of disruption or obstruction.

We believe that in order to achieve these ideals, all COFAC students, staff, and faculty are expected to exhibit and practice civil behaviors that exemplify: (1) respecting faculty, staff, fellow students, guests, and all university property, policies, rules and regulations; (2) taking responsibility for one’s choices, actions and comments; (3) delivering correspondence – whether verbal, nonverbal, written, or electronic – with respectful language using professional writing standards and etiquette; and (4) accepting consequences of one’s choices and actions. The use of offensive, threatening or abusive language, writing, or behavior will not be tolerated and can lead to academic dismissal. Further information about civility can be found in Appendix F of the university catalog.

Examples demonstrating civility in the classroom as a student include:

  • Being respectful of the professor and other students.
  • Not texting or using cellular phones and other electronic devices.
  • Not using your laptop for activities other than class work.
  • Not eating or drinking in class.
  • Not reading things unrelated to the course or listening to music during the class.
  • Not sleeping in class.

Examples demonstrating civility in the classroom as a faculty member include:

  • Being respectful of the students.
  • Attempting to understand individual student needs and learning styles.
  • Discussing civil behavioral expectations during the first class.
  • Taking time to talk with students whose behaviors negatively affect the classroom.
  • Encouraging students to follow your civil behavior.

Liability Statement

In all assignments, students must comply with all laws and the legal rights of others (e.g. copyright, obscenity, privacy and defamation) and with all Towson University policies (e.g. academic dishonesty). Towson University is not liable or responsible for the content of any student assignments, regardless of where they are posted.

Students with Disabilities Policy

This course is in compliance with Towson University policies for students with disabilities as described at https://www.towson.edu/accessibility-disability-services/. Students with disabilities are encouraged to register with Accessibility & Disability Services (ADS), Admin Bldg. Rooms 232-235, 410-704-2638 (Voice). Students who suspect that they have a disability but do not have documentation are encouraged to contact ADS for advice on how to obtain appropriate evaluation. A memo from ADS authorizing your accommodation is needed to begin accommodation process.

Veterans Support and Services

For all student veterans (regardless of discharge status or last time of service), Towson University is committed to providing services and support through the Military & Veterans Center (MVC). The MVC can assist with educational benefits claims, military-related matters (call-ups for deployment, residency issues), veteran issues (VA healthcare and mental healthcare support), and other unique needs that might arise. The MVC can be found in the Psychology Building, Room 107. More information can be found at towson.edu/veterans, by calling (410) 704-2992, or by emailing tuvetcenter@towson.edu.

Weapons Policy

To promote a safe and secure campus, Towson University prohibits the possession or control of any weapon while on university property. See the university policy at http://www.towson.edu/studentaffairs/policies/.


Earning a college degree is an endeavor that is preparing you for a future in a professional workplace. I expect you to display those qualities of professionalism in my classroom. Here are some policies and behaviors that I require you to follow:

  • You will show respect to your fellow classmates and your professor. You will not belittle or laugh at others’ ideas or dominate discussions. The professor may eject you from class for any inappropriate or disruptive behavior.
    • You will not interrupt or disrupt the class. This means all cell phones will be turned off during class. AND NO TEXTING! If you eat or drink during class, you will do so quietly and will always clean up after yourself by throwing away your trash. Leaving class to get food or beverage is a disruption. Only the restroom or an illness is an acceptable reason to leave the class. If you have a legitimate reason for leaving class early, please tell your professor before class and sit near the door.
    • You will be counted absent if you are more than 15 minutes late for class. You will be counted absent if you sleep in class, or leave class and don’t return.
    • If you bring a laptop to class, it should only be used for taking notes. You will be counted absent for that class if I find you surfing the Internet, messaging, etc.
    • Because this is a once a week class, you are allowed only 2 unexcused absences. After that, you must bring in documentation, i.e. a signed doctor’s note or a signed health center note. However, please DO NOT attend class if you are contagious; we do not want your illness. In the case of car or traffic-related absences, you must bring a car repair bill or towing bill. (Not being able to find a place to park on Towson’s campus is NOT an excused absence.) In the case of a death-related absence, please email before you attend the funeral and give me the name of the deceased. The key to an excused absence is proper documentation.
    • Any UMS-recognized religious holiday is an excused absence, and the work missed can be made up. However, please inform your professor that you will be out of class and arrange to get the make-up work. Please obtain any missed notes from a fellow classmate.
    • Work-related or internship-related absences are NOT excused. Do not sign up for a class that conflicts with your work/internship schedule, or if you do not have the free time to complete required outside class assignments.
    • It is your responsibility to make up any missed work due to an absence. Please get to know your classmates and ask them first. The professor will discuss make-up work before or after class or during office hours, not during class time.
    • You, not the professor, are responsible for your grade. If you do not complete an assignment, you will receive a zero.
    • Do not attend class if you have been drinking or taking illegal drugs. If you do so, the campus police will be called and you will be asked to leave class.
    • Never lie, cheat, plagiarize, or fabricate. A mature person asks for help, rather than taking these unethical “shortcuts.” If your professor cannot give you the help you need, then she will refer you to the numerous on-campus resources, such as tutoring services or the Writing Center. If the class is still too difficult for you, become self-aware enough to understand when or if you should drop or withdraw from the class. There is no shame in withdrawing from a class and taking it another semester.
    • Respect yourself enough to try your best, and the professor will respect you, too.


College of Fine Arts and Communication
Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies
Towson, MD 21252
TO: All Students in the Department Of Mass Communication and Communication Studies
FROM: Department Faculty

The Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies adheres to the following policy regarding plagiarism:

  1. Any words or images taken directly from another source (including the Internet) must be footnoted or cited and in quotation marks. Similarly, in oral presentations, attributions must be clear.
  2. Any ideas derived from a source not in the public domain or of general knowledge must be clearly attributed.
  3. Any paraphrased material must be footnoted or cited. In oral presentations, attributions must be clear.
  4. All papers and presentations must be the student’s own work. Submission of papers or presentations authored by others, even with their consent, constitutes plagiarism.

Any student found plagiarizing in any of the above ways will receive an automatic “F” for the assignment and may receive an “F” for the course. Documented evidence of the plagiarism will be kept in the department office, and will be reported to the Office of Judicial Affairs.

Any student discovered soliciting others to write a paper, speech, test, or other assignment for that student will receive an automatic “F” for the course.

There are ambiguities in concepts of plagiarism. Faculty will be available for consultation regarding any confusion a student may have.

Most students are careful to avoid blatant plagiarism, the unacknowledged copying of exact words of the source. However, students must also be aware that the concept of plagiarism extends not only to wording but to patterns or sequences of ideas. If you paraphrase without acknowledgement, using the same sequence or structure as the original author, then you are plagiarizing.

Students have the right to appeal a charge of plagiarism. An appeal starts with the chairperson of the department.

The Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies has adopted the following policy regarding cheating: