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Accessibility in the Classroom

Accessibility in the Classroom

Creating an inclusive and accessible classrooms requires courses to be designed and delivered with a diversity of learning styles in mind. Identifying and removing barriers to teaching and learning are critical components in creating an accessible classroom.

 

Physical access to the classroom is one component of accessibility in an academic environment. Tips on how to ensure the classroom layout is accessible can be found in sections 4 and 5 in the planning for accessibility checklist which can be downloaded here: Planning for Accessibility: A Checklist for Inclusion.

 

Ensuring the classroom environment is inclusive of students with disabilities (including invisible disabilities such as mental health and chronic illness) requires proactive measures such as:

    • Using inclusive language:
        • use person first language such as 'student with a disability'
        • avoid using adjectives as nouns e.g. 'the deaf, the blind, the disabled'. Rather use more respectful language such as 'the student who is hard of hearing'
    • Including a syllabus statement regarding the duty to accommodate students with disabilities
    • Addressing discriminatory behaviors or stereotypical comments as soon as possible. Silence or inaction may be taken as an endorsement

 

Common examples of accessibility in a classroom can include:

    • Providing reading lists and course syllabus in advance
    • Providing alternative formats (see Alternate Formats) of lecture notes ahead of time
    • Ensure lecture material is available electronically
    • Ensure instructions and expectations are clear and concise
    • Exercise accessible practices for presentation tools like PowerPoint or Prezi 
Student Accessibility Services (SAS) can provide more detailed information about how to accomodate individual students. Visit the SAS website here: http://sas.mcmaster.ca/faculty-info.html