The Commons

Making your classroom accessible

There are many ways to make the curriculum accessible to all students including those with disabilities.

Accessibility Services is here to help faculty as well as students.

A broad overview of disabilities, is available in the free, 11-module Supporting Students with Disabilities course and resources site.

There are some general strategies that will help students with disabilities who are in your classes. Some of these strategies are easier to do with technology such as Desire2Learn.

In addition, many strategies are just as useful for the whole class. As an instructor, you should:
  • Use a variety of instructional strategies to reinforce course concepts
  • Provide outlines on organizational structure for class lectures
  • Use demonstrations, visual aids, and concrete examples to reinforce course material
  • Introduce key vocabulary and concepts before each unit
  • Allow for questions before beginning assignments or tasks
  • Provide access to lecture notes or PowerPoint slides
  • Provide a study guide or outline for quizzes, tests, and exams
Documented disability arrow View
Our services are designed for students who have a documented disability.

This means they have been evaluated and diagnosed by a registered Clinical or Educational Psychologist.

Once the disability has been documented, a student may be eligible for one or more academic accommodations based on their individual needs, such as extra time, a reader or a scribe.

Once you know about the particular student disability, check out potential academic accommodations and classroom strategies.
You will be notified - next steps arrow View
  • If you have a student who requires academic accommodation, Accessibility Services will notify you via email. Students must have a documented disability in order to use our services.
  • If you're not familiar with a particular disability, you can start by learning about the wide variety of disabilities as well as the particular disability your student faces by checking out the understanding disabilities web pages.
  • As an instructor, you need to be aware of academic accommodations and classroom strategies that will benefit both you and your student(s).
Teaching Decision Making arrow View
The ability to make effective decisions is an important skill for students to have. An ericsdigest.org article examines Teaching Decision Making to Students with Learning Disabilities by Promoting Self-Determination
Universal Instructional Design arrow View
Universal Instructional Design or Universal Design for Learning is an approach to accessibility that moves from "special features for a few" to "good design for many".

The Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) defines as "a universal design for learning a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone--not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs."

For more information, check out the Course Design & Planning pages in this website.
Screen readers for exams arrow View
Did you know that if your exam is on D2L or Microsoft Word, it can be read aloud by a screen reader? That is just one of the ways to help learners who struggle with reading to succeed. 

Supporting Students with Disabilities Course arrow View
Developed in New Brunswick especially for post-secondary faculty, there are 11 modules in  Supporting Students with Disabilities. They include:
  • the big picture
  • attention deficit and hyperactivity
  • autism spectrum disorders
  • chronic health conditions
  • compulsive behaviours
  • deaf & hard of hearing
  • learning disabilities
  • mental health disorders
  • physical disabilities
  • substance abuse
  • blind or partially sighted
Each section covers:
  • myths and facts
  • definitions
  • implications for learning
  • videos
  • scenario
  • references

There are also sections on assistive technology and general resources