Accessible: Capable of being reached; Being within reach; Capable of being used or seen; Capable of being understood or appreciated; Capable of being influenced; Easily used or accessed by people with disabilities: adapted for use by people with disabilities.
“Accessible.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/accessible. Accessed 5 Jan. 2021.
I love how Merriam-Webster defines accessible. By utilizing the word capable, the intimidating factors that come with learning something new, are removed. I equate capable with the word possible. Learning that is accessible, means making learning possible. Possible to understand, appreciate, see, used, be influential, and adapted when necessary. Learning that is accessible is learning that is within reach.
Making learning accessible will look different in every circumstance. This is due to the different abilities, backgrounds, biases, and cultural norms that composes each one of us. What is accessible to one student or classroom, is not to another. For this reason, I find it best to ask several guiding questions to ensure I am making my teaching accessible to all. These questions are not an exhaustive list, simply one that will get us thinking about accessibility.
Is my teaching accessible?
Am I teaching to all learning styles? Consider having a visual aid, using hands-on activities, provide interactive experiences, etc..
Have I arranged my learning environment in a manner that makes learning possible for all? Consider students who have visual impairments, are hard of hearing, have sensory needs, or require specific adaptations to the physical environment.
Are the resources I’m using diverse? Look at the teaching materials you are utilizing. Be sure that students can see themselves reflected in the materials as well as exposing students to a diverse landscape of people and cultures.
Am I allowing multiple ways for students to demonstrate their learning? Instead of a pencil and paper task or test, experiment with other methods of assessment. Click here for a list of ideas.
Do I have a good understanding of my students as individuals? Take time to familiarize yourself with each students’ needs (I.E.P.’s, modifications needed, past report cards, and other documentation). Of course, nothing can replace a one-on-one interview with each student to speak to them personally about how they see themselves as learners.
Take time to get to know your students. As you begin to better understand who they are and what they need to be successful, you will become better equipped to create learning opportunities that ensure success!
Here is a resource that you can use to explore this topic more.