According to the National Center for Education Statistics, throughout the 2020-2021 school year, about 7.2 million public school students received special education, which is about 15% of students.
Whether a physical, mental, or other disability, students need support throughout their education journey. Here are five ways to make your classroom more accessible to students.
What is a flexible workspace? Flexible seating can look like bean bag chairs, exercise balls, or standing desks. Classrooms that provide students with flexible seating options allow students to have a choice in their learning environment which is proven to increase feelings of control. This is particularly helpful for students who need to regularly move an opportunity to do so while remaining engaged. Another benefit of flexible seating is increased community and collaboration because students aren’t territorial over their desks.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
This might sound like having one universal way of doing things, but it is the opposite. Universal Design for Learning is used in classrooms to ensure that all students find a way to learn. UDL brings flexibility into learning plans so that students of all abilities can learn and understand.
UDL consists of 3 main principles:
Engagement: Looking for ways to sustain engagement like having students plan lessons or providing opportunities for students to move around.
Representation: Display information in more than one format such as a video along with a hands-on activity.
Action and Expression: Allow learners to display what they learned in more than one format. For example, a student might want to give an oral report whereas another student might want to take a pen-and-paper test.
Present Information in Multiple Ways
Students often prefer specific ways of learning that differ from their peers. Here are some simple ways that educators can present their classroom material in multiple ways:
- Ensure videos have closed captions that can easily be read and images include visual descriptions.
- Include a variety of mediums from text and graphics to audio and visual.
- Share online documents as text files instead of PDFs so they can be read by screen readers.
Only presenting information in one way creates limitations to some students who don’t grasp content in that form.
Placing students with physical disabilities at their own tables or near doors may seem convenient but in reality, it separates students from their peers and learning. Classroom layouts should be open to allow students to easily move from one spot to another. Ensuring students can easily move around the classroom allows for full participation.
Clutter can also be a barrier to movement. Encourage students to keep bags, jackets, and other items off the floor.
Create an Inclusive Classroom Climate
Address ableism and harmful language that occurs in the classroom. Teach students about topics like identity first vs. people first language. Recognize disability studies and culture in your curriculum. Consider providing students breaks throughout the day to accommodate those who need them. Allow students to provide anonymous feedback or reporting within the classroom. Finally, have difficult conversations with students and be open to changing your opinions and practices.
About Intervene K-12
Intervene K-12 empowers students to achieve their academic potential by providing accessible education to all. We combine innovative technology and educational expertise through our high-impact, high-dosage tutoring programs. Learn more at: https://intervenek12.com/about-us/