Want Your Program to Include All Learners?
Check out these resources for educators to build inclusive opportunities
Most educators would probably agree they want their learning opportunities to include all learners, but when it comes to actually including all learners, there can be gaps in instructors’ knowledge about accessible space, delivery, and curriculum. We’ve rounded up some resources for educators looking to build teaching practices that are inclusive of a wide range of abilities.
Universal Design for Learning
Regarded as the gold-standard for creating inclusive environments, the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework has been helping educators rethink their work for 30 years. UDL is an approach that minimizes barriers and maximizes growth for all students— building a curriculum that supports students on the margins works better for everyone. UDL “academies” can deliver blended professional development (online and face-to-face).
Science of the Individual
This TED Talk by L. Todd Rose looks at classroom space design. He asks how many students (like him) have dropped or opted out of learning opportunities because they were designed for a mythical “average” student. This “simple” new way of thinking helps nurture individual potential. The physical learning space and materials can and should be thoughtfully designed to include all learners and participants in an activity.
The PEAL Center Toolkits
The Parent Education and Advocacy Leadership (PEAL) Center is a statewide organization of parents whose children have disabilities and healthcare needs. Their staff educates families of children and youth who also have disabilities or healthcare needs. The PEAL Center has put together Inclusion Toolkits helping families, educators, and service providers to facilitate friendships with children with disabilities, learn more about supplementary aids, and more.
Offering interpretive services for both spoken language and American Sign Language, the Center for Hearing and Deaf Services can help organizations to include learners speaking languages other than English. Steel City Interpreters offers both these services in addition to captioning or Communication Access Realtime Translation that can be displayed on a laptop or projected onto a larger screen.
The PA Training and Technical Assistance Network provides support for the Bureau of Special Education, to build capacity of local educational agencies that serve students who receive special education services. PaTTAN offers continuing education credits, training events, seminars, covering topics like physical instruction space, access to instruction, and behavioral needs.
Learning Disabilities Association of America
The Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDAA) offers tons of resources ranging from advocacy information for families to teaching/learning resources for educators to include “all kinds of minds” in their programming. The What Works Clearinghouse they link to reviews the existing research on different programs, products, practices, and policies in education so educators can check whether their pedagogy fits the bill.
The Autism Connection of PA staff—all parents who understand Autism—provide telephone support, weekly Autism news, sensory-friendly activities (like symphony performances and special showings of theatre productions in partnership with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust), and they coordinate more than 76 support groups across the state. But! They also provide training for educators, healthcare providers, or employers to better understand including people with Autism in the community.
ACHIEVA was founded in 1951 by a group of family members who all desired the same thing: to ensure their children with disabilities had the same chances in life that all children should be given. Their database of webinars can help providers of educational opportunities to provide more inclusive, accessible opportunities.
Published June 20, 2018