Incorporate accessibility into your pedagogical practice

When incorporating accessibility into your pedagogy, it can be helpful to have an understanding of the language commonly used. This page offers definitions and context for understanding the accessibility information in this Knowledge Base.

Accessibility means that:

A person with a disability can acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services in an equally effective integrated manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use as a person without disability.

(Image from the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials website and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Text in the image is substantively drawn from the following source: U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. (June 29, 2010). Joint “Dear Colleague” letter: electronic book readers.

Incorporating accessible teaching practices aligns with McGill’s Mission, Principles, and EDI Strategic Plan, which highlight the University’s role in “the advancement of learning … by offering the best possible education,” “embracing the principles of … equity, and inclusiveness” (McGill Mission and Principles), and “enhanc[ing] capacity of teaching staff … to create and maintain respectful, accessible, and inclusive … learning settings” (McGill EDI Strategic Plan). Moreover, since all students learn and interact in diverse ways, accessible pedagogical practices benefit both students with and without disabilities.

  • Accessible teaching and learning materials refers to print and technology-based materials that are designed or enhanced in a way that makes them usable across the widest range of learner variability, regardless of format (e.g., print, digital, graphic, audio, video). (Definition adapted from the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials, based at CAST.)

  • Persons with disabilities refers to “people who experience any impairment, including physical, mental, sensory, or learning disabilities, including those with chronic health conditions, whether permanent, temporary, or episodic in nature, or evident or not, which may result in a person encountering barriers to full participation in university life or society. This can also include persons identifying as neurodivergent. An official diagnosis is not required” (Student Demographic Survey Report of Biennial Data to Senate Student Census Report of Biennial Data to Senate – April 2023)

Disability is common: 1 in 4 Canadians have at least one disability (Statistics Canada, 2023) and at least 8.8% of McGill students identify as persons with disabilities (Student Demographic Survey Report of Biennial Data to Senate Student Census Report of Biennial Data to Senate – April 2023). University students with disabilities encounter numerous barriers that impede their full participation in the educational environment and accessibility aims to reduce or eliminate those barriers.

These articles offer strategies for making teaching and learning accessible for students in your courses. To find out more, explore the topics below.

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