Tips for Accessible Classrooms

Though the accommodations we provide help to fill in the equality gaps of traditional classrooms, the ideal solution to increasing accessibility is to promote the most integrated learning environment possible. Universal Design (UD) is an approach to developing materials, constructing environments and delivering content that are inherently accessible to the widest possible audience. Based on equitability and flexibility, UD end-products can be accessed by people of varying abilities, learning styles, cultures and languages, WITHOUT “special assistance” or “retro-fitting”.

By making your courses more universally-designed, both in-person and online, your course content will become more accessible to all of your students and the need for additional classroom accommodations will inevitably decrease. Unlike special adaptations, UD is not targeted to a specific person or disability category, so no one person is treated differently than the norm. Sound UD allows each person to choose the option that best fits their current situation and preferences.

When applying UD principles, remember these 3 essential components:

1) Represent info for your audience through multiple modes (i.e. audio, visual, text, graphics)
2) Allow your audience to use multiple means of expression/response (i.e. e-comm, phone, live)
3) Encourage engagement with choices (i.e. hands-on, group work, resources for further study)

Specific Recommendations