Making school more accessible for students with disabilities


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Fall is an exciting time. Students are returning to school, reconnecting with friends, settling into new educational challenges. But not all students experience those challenges in the same way. For those living with a disability, school can present a unique set of opportunities and issues.

It may be as clear as needing accessible washrooms, doorways, and classrooms for students who use wheelchairs. On the other hand, it may be as subtle as requiring extra time for exams due to a learning exceptionality, or mental health issue. Or it could be another invisible disability – arthritis, cystic fibrosis, colitis, chronic fatigue syndrome. 

Fortunately, there are many ways for all types of disabilities to be accommodated in the classroom, whether it’s in a university or an elementary school.  Aside from ensuring physical accessibility, education professionals can consider:

The variety of media used to present information
The fonts and colours used on written material 
The placement and arrangement of furniture and materials
Where you as a teacher place yourself in the classroom 
Give all students the opportunity to privately share useful information (perhaps through inviting them to write you a note explaining what they’d like you to know about themselves)
Make space for students to advocate for themselves so they can ask questions and make their needs clear

Specific accommodations will depend on the specific student, of course. These are just general points to think about. For more detailed resources - such as lesson plans on accessibility and inclusion, to guidance on Universal Design for Learning – you can visit the Rick Hanson Foundation’s School Program (www.rickhansen.com/Our-Work/School-Program​). It’s a wonderful place for administrators, teachers, and students to get started on creating a more inclusive classroom.

For students at York University and Seneca College who live with a permanent physical disability, March of Dimes Canada offers an Attendant Care Program both in residence and off campus. You can find more details on the March of Dimes Canada website at www.marchofdimes.ca.

Here’s to a new school year – let’s get everyone off to a good start!

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March of Dimes Canada is a nationally registered charitable organization providing support services to people with physical disabilities, their families and caregivers across Canada. Our goal is to enhance the independence and community participation of people with physical disabilities every day through a wide range of programs and services across Canada.  For more information, please visit www.marchofdimes.ca or call 1-800-263-3463.   


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