On Mismatch, a digital magazine for designers, founder Kat Holmes calls inclusive design “a skill that is developed with practice, over time.” Holmes continues, “In my education as an engineer, designer, and citizen I never formally learned about inclusion or exclusion. Accessibility, sociology, and civil rights weren’t required curricula for learning how to build technology.” For designers, she writes, “three fears of inclusion will likely strike you at some point. If so, you’re not alone. But from each of them grows an insight into the nature of inclusion.”
As a member of the European Union, Malta’s National Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has created a comprehensive set of guidelines for designing public spaces. A set of “Access for All Design Guidelines” are a requirement for all EU member countries. This is a technical guide, primarily designed to be followed by architects and engineers, and would be useful to any organization considering a renovation.
“In order to attract the best work force it is essential that your office is set up to cater for employees of all physical abilities. Although this may sound obvious, it is surprising just how few workplaces would be able to facilitate an employee with a disability if they were to start work with immediate effect.”
Effective teaching means effective communication. However, with students emerging from a variety of cultures, backgrounds and abilities in today’s classrooms, the language used in teaching can often stifle students’ progress. Subjects such as math and science use jargon which can be confusing, especially when the students speak differently and may use a different language at home.
Roger Ideishi is a pioneer in the Philadelphia area for transforming public places into welcoming spaces, especially for families of children with disabilities. During the past four years, Ideishi has focused his work of transforming the city’s theatres, museums and concert halls from places where families with special needs children felt isolated and scrutinized, into welcoming havens where no one is judged.
KQED Education is a learning website which provides educators experiential activities and professional tools to create inclusive learning environments. Kristen Vogel has been a special education teacher for more than 10 years and writes a useful list of five successful strategies she has found to work in an inclusive classroom.
Inclusive teaching can help educators expand their understanding of what they can achieve. To this end, The Teaching Center at Washington University aims to improve teaching and learning by integrating innovation in the classroom. Here are some strategies for inclusive teaching and learning which are featured on their website.
Universal Design Instruction (UDI) is a scientifically based concept that emphasizes inclusive practices to maximize student success, including those with ranges in ability, disability, age, learning style, language, race and ethnicity. For post-secondary institutions, this not only means ensuring campuses meet certain criteria in accessibility, but also rearranging classroom seating so clear sightlines are available to all students. Additionally, institutions should provide materials in electronic formats as well as captioning and transcribing for video presentations.
Without inclusivity, any attempt to create a diverse community is likely to fail. There must be a culture of acceptance and tolerance in order to be successful in embracing and strengthening eclectic views. One of Canada’s leading insurance companies, Aviva, has committed to change people’s attitudes by giving its top marketing executive, Jan Gooding, a mandate to work out how to move beyond tolerance to inclusion.
Teachers who take the helm of an inclusive classroom are probably patient, caring, resourceful and creative. Most importantly, they must be versatile, so they can draw out the best efforts of every student regardless of their ability. But, to make lessons fun and innovative involves hours of planning. Inclusive teachers vary the way they deliver their lessons by working with the whole class, small groups or individual students. Students will succeed when expectations remain high and a collaborative instruction model is implemented between teaching staff, parents and the school.
Although physical education (PE) may not be every students favourite period, there are proven benefits that fitness and team sports can improve overall health and mental wellness. The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. recently ran a live chat aimed at teachers to explore how to optimize PE class so students feel involved and motivated.
Physical activity is a must for the development of all children. It not only benefits the body physically, but it also increases concentration and leads to academic success. Accommodating every students’ needs can be a daunting task, but help is at hand from Ophea – the website dedicated to healthy schools and communities.
Commit to Inclusion is a global campaign committed to ending the exclusion of individuals with disabilities. The campaign was founded by The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability, The American Association on Health and Disability and the Centre on Disability at the Public Health Institute.