At York University, an accessible learning environment and the opportunities to achieve success are available to all students. York U faculty and staff play a huge role in how all students, in particular those with disabilities, experience learning. This includes how course content is delivered to how print materials are created. Faculty and staff are supported by Student Accessibility Services to create learning environments that address students’ accessibility needs.
In today’s #YUBlog post, we’ll look at what makes a classroom accessible at York U and what you can watch out for the next time you have a lecture or a tutorial! For a full overview of Student Accessibility Services, be sure to check out our previous #YUBlog post, “Introducing Student Accessibility Services at York U.”
What Does Accessibility Mean?
York U’s Student Accessibility Services strives to create an accessible on-campus learning environment. This means that all students with disabilities at York U are provided equal access to university-related programs and activities, learning and research environments and physical on-campus spaces. Student Accessibility Services works closely with students, faculty and staff to accomplish these goals and make sure students can engage in their learning environments.
What Can You Expect from an Accessible Classroom?
There are many things that your course instructor can do to make sure that you have access to an accessible learning environment. Here’s a brief run-down of what you can expect from your classes:
Delivery of Course Content
Lectures are one of the primary ways we receive the information we need to succeed in our studies. No matter if your lecture is one hour or three hours in length, has 30 or 500 students, there are a few things that your professor can do to help make sure your learning space is accessible:
- Face the class when giving a lecture and make eye contact when speaking;
- Use a microphone in all large classrooms and lecture halls;
- Make sure that electronic presentation tools, like a PowerPoint Presentation, are clear to read; and
- Offer feedback on coursework in between assignments or assessments.
Access to Course Materials
Like me, you probably engage with course materials, such as handouts and lecture notes, more than any other course-related content at university. Your course directors and teaching assistants should make sure that these materials are accessible and can do so in the following simple ways:
- Offer students course materials in multiple formats, such as digital equivalents of hardcopy handouts;
- Provide lecture outlines and organizers for students to annotate during class; and
- Make sure that all digital materials are accessible format by assistive technologies.
If you are unsure where to find any assistive technologies you may need to access course material, please be sure to get in touch with an Accessibility Counsellor by registering with Student Accessibility Services. You can do so by consulting their Student Intake Process webpage.
Creating Safe Learning Environments
Instructors can also make the classroom accessible by creating a positive and safe environment for all students to use and engage with course content. Below, you’ll find some things your professor can do to create this open space.
- Encourage students to speak with the course instructor and/or teaching assistants about any accommodations they may need in private;
- Ensure students feel free to engage in open discussion; and
- Maintain an accessible course website.
I hope that this #YUBlog post has helped you learn about what an accessible classroom looks like. Each of these learning conditions can help ensure that you’re in a safe space where you can achieve academic success!
If you believe that you may require additional accommodations beyond an accessible classroom due to a disability, please don’t hesitate to contact Student Accessibility Services.
If you have any additional questions about accessible learning spaces, please leave a comment below or tweet us at @YorkUStudents!