Category Archives: Presentations

U of Guelph Session “An Accessibility Curriculum”

Our session at the 5th Annual University of Guelph’s The Accessibility Conference May 29, 2013

 ”An Accessibility Curriculum”

First, I would like to note that the objective of this session was merely to facilitate a discussion about including accessibility in the curriculum and to review some examples of existing accessibility curricula. We truly believe that an accessible society begins with strategic implementation of accessibility into curricula across all disciplines to create a future generation of accessibility minded individuals creating accessible products, services and spaces. Any discussion around this is beneficial, however, ideally  accessibility education should be standardized and delivered by qualified individuals and institutions.

Second, I would like to thank Sarah White for her invaluable contribution to the session providing her practical experience designing, implementing and instructing the accessibility program at Durham College.

Accessibility and the Education Curriculum

With all businesses in Ontario are now required under the A.O.D.A, (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005) to comply with new accessibility laws, accessibility awareness training is now vital for all trades and disciplines.

When it comes to accessibility and education, the focus to date has been on making teaching and curriculums accessible. This is necessary, and will have far-reaching, favourable benefits as increasing access significantly impacts attainment levels. Education has an important role to play in fostering the kind of change that will result in both the immediate and long-term success of the AODA and accessibility, and as such, we need to reframe the accessibility narrative beyond making the curriculum accessible to explore the importance of including accessibility in the curriculum.

Both Japan and the UK present us with precedence of successful accessibility implementation, where accessibility was not limited to design alone, but strategically implemented in a broad range of curriculums representing future “policy makers, technologists and bureaucrats”.

Educational institutions have an active roll in building toward an accessible Ontario through the inclusion of accessibility awareness curriculums and training. As most barriers to access exist simply as a result of lack of awareness, awareness is key to accessibility. Lack of awareness is exacerbated by attitudinal barriers and misperceptions about the cost of implementation, resulting in barriers to access, inaccessibility, and non-compliance. Expanding awareness about these: issues, obligations, regulations and compliance requirements; barriers to access; the cost-effectiveness of accessibility; and the benefits and opportunities of inclusion will result in improved accessibility and accommodation, barrier removal, and the effective provision of goods or services to persons with disabilities.

The possibilities and opportunities accessibility and inclusion provide are immeasurable, encouraging and enabling participation and integration for all citizens in aspects of all aspects of society including employment, consumerism, and recreation. Accessibility is becoming increasingly important as our population ages and disabilities increase. For businesses, accessibility expands the reach of their product or service to the entire market while improving corporate perception, customer satisfaction and consumer loyalty. And as accessibility benefits all aspects of society, improved accessibility resulting from increased accessibility awareness will benefit all.

Imagine the benefits the following disciplines could gain from a curriculum that includes accessibility awareness training for a better understanding of barriers to access and accessibility;

– architects

- administrators

- security

- designers

- engineers

- healthcare

– web developers

- planners

- business management

- human resources

- marketing

- advertising

- hospitality

- tourism

- recreation

– computer engineering.

- criminal justice

-social services

- info. sciences

To be successful, accessibility awareness curriculums should provide an increased understanding

of disability and barriers to access and develop an appreciation of the benefits of accessibility and inclusion. Outlining obligations, requirements, and purposes of the A.O.D.A., as well as discussing core principles of independence, dignity, integration, and equality of opportunity, addressing the varying barriers for physical, hearing, intellectual, learning, visual and speech disabilities.

In addition, curriculums should address the rationale behind the regulation and compare legislated accessibility to actual accessibility. Providing solutions for accommodation so students can develop techniques, practical strategies and adaptive service skills and attitudes to create appropriate and effective methods of incorporating accessibility and accommodation into specific disciplines and fields of study is imperative.

With the government of Ontario planning toward an accessible Province by 2025, it is only logical to begin accessibility training now.

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