Creating Accessible Classrooms and Courses

Utilizing the range of technologies and spatial affordances to support all learners will result in a more inclusive environment, enhance the diversity of voices and perspectives, and thereby improve learning for all. Simplifying navigation in your online course, and making sure you add captions and image tags, aids everyone. Many students face challenges, both technical and financial, with bandwidth, hardware, and software. Here are some resources for reflection and action:

 

Students with Disabilities

An inclusive classroom works on the premise that students with disabilities are as competent as students without one. Students in the classroom may have temporary, recurring, or long-term disabilities. Some common disabilities include:

  • Hearing loss,
  • Low vision or blindness,
  • Learning disabilities, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or dyslexia,
  • Mobility disabilities,
  • Chronic health disorders, such as epilepsy, migraine headaches, or multiple sclerosis,
  • Psychological or psychiatric disabilities, such as anxiety, depressive disorders, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,
  • Asperger’s disorder and other Autism spectrum disorders, and
  • Traumatic Brain Injury

Students may have disabilities that are more or less apparent. For instance, you may not know that a student has anxiety unless the student chooses to disclose this information or an incident arises.

To create an inclusive classroom, it is important to use language that prioritizes the student over their disability (“ability before disability”). Disability labels can be stigmatizing and perpetuate false stereotypes where students who are disabled are not as capable as their peers.  In general, it is appropriate to reference the disability only when it is pertinent to the situation. For instance, it is better to say “The student, who has a disability” rather than “The disabled student” because it places the importance on the student, rather than on the fact that the student has a disability. For more information on terminology, see the guide provided by the National Center on Disability and Journalism: http://ncdj.org/style-guide/.

For more information, visit UConn’s Center for Students with Disabilities website.

Understanding & Supporting College Students with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) & Postsecondary Education

Anxiety Disorders & Depression: Growing Issues on College Campuses

ADHD & College