Inclusive teaching tips for faculty

These tips create an inclusive and supportive learning environment for all students and reduce or eliminate barriers to learning and participation.

Course planning

  • Increase your awareness of your students’ prior knowledge, abilities and backgrounds.
  • Develop clear course expectations regarding what students need to demonstrate with regard to content and academic skill development.
  • Ensure materials can be easily accessed; clean copies of materials are required for effective scanning.

 

Teaching

  • Well-organized materials for ease of use regardless of previous experience, knowledge, language skills, concentration.
  • Multi-modal delivery for students with differing sensory abilities.
  • Clear step-by-step explanations of key material and examples with connections made between the lecture and the readings.
  • Connect individual concepts to course themes and key discipline questions.
  • Create opportunities to practice analytical skills.
  • Allow breaks to ask questions.
  • Review the space for physical access if needed.

 

Assessment

  • Key principle is flexibility: a range of assessment methods, ways to participate and clear extension guidelines.
  • Opportunities for feedback.
  • Offer strong examples of course assignments as a model for students.
  • Provide a rubric and/or grading scheme for assignments and exams.

 

Practicums, labs and field trips

  • Review expectations regarding transportation, time of day, food and physical demands to identify any issues.
  • Ensure opportunities for multi-modal teaching.
  • Problem-solve any specific accommodation requests.
  • Clearly outline dates by which students should discuss accommodations for practicums, labs, or fieldtrips to ensure that they are in place and that there is enough time to solve any potential problems.

 

Additional resources

Laptops and tablets in classrooms

Laptop computers and tablet devices are an academic accommodation for students with disabilities as they can be used to support learning and to bypass a challenging task such as handwriting, for example. They are also considered “assistive devices.” Assistive or adaptive technology refers to the devices and services that are used to increase, maintain, or improve the capabilities of a student with a disability. Since persons with disabilities are permitted to use personal assistive devices, like laptops, banning such devices in the classroom may limit their full participation in the academic environment and violate their right to appropriate accommodation.
 
Banning laptops for all students except the ones registered with Accessibility Services is also not encouraged as it would essentially put some students in a position where their disability would be "outed" to the rest of the class. Moreover, many students with disabilities choose not to register with Accessibility Services but are nonetheless protected by the provincial legislation regarding appropriate accommodations. Allowing the use of laptops by all students, unless it would compromise the academic integrity of the course’s core requirements, is therefore important as it protects the confidentiality of students with disabilities.
 
Laptops are an effective learning tool and it is appropriate for professors to create clear messages about the appropriate use of laptops in the classroom. However, for some students laptops are essential. For many students with disabilities, allowing the use of an assistive device (e.g. laptop or tablet) is an appropriate accommodation. For more information on how to support assistive technology for students with disabilities, please contact Accessibility Services.