The service promotes inclusive teaching practices which benefit all students.
AccessAbility Services works closely with the Centre for Teaching and Learning to support faculty. CTL is available to consult on the design of your syllabus and assignments; curriculum development and mapping; course design; equity, diversity and inclusion; and research support. This includes experiential learning courses and curricula.
The university's AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) office also provides supports and education on accessible design including programming, events, and making course materials accessible.
For tips and suggestions on how to make your programming/courses more accessible, you may also visit:
- Inclusive Teaching: Perspectives of Students with Disabilities, (Volume 5, Number 1, Spring 2011, Open Words Journal)
- University's Course Planning Guide, Council of Ontario Universities
- Educator’s Accessibility Toolkit, Council of Ontario Universities
- Accessibility E-learning, Council of Ontario Universities
- Inclusive Teaching - A Touchstone Resource, Universal Instructional Design
- Improving the Accessibility of Remote Higher Education: Lessons from the pandemic and recomendations
Ableism and Microagressions
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (2018) has highlighted that "an “ableist” belief system often underlies negative attitudes, stereotypes and stigma toward students with disabilities. “Ableism” refers to attitudes in society that devalue and limit the potential of people with disabilities. According to the Law Commission of Ontario:
[Ableism] may be defined as a belief system, analogous to racism, sexism or ageism, that sees persons with disabilities as being less worthy of respect and consideration, less able to contribute and participate, or of less inherent value than others. Ableism may be conscious or unconscious, and may be embedded in institutions, systems or the broader culture of a society. It can limit the opportunities of persons with disabilities and reduce their inclusion in the life of their communities.
Ableist attitudes are often premised on the view that disability is an “anomaly to normalcy,” rather than an inherent and expected variation in the human condition. A great deal of discrimination faced by students with disabilities is underpinned by social constructs of “normality” which in turn tend to reinforce obstacles to integration rather than encourage ways to ensure full participation...Students with disabilities may be perceived to be a “burden” on the educational system, teachers, instructors, fellow students, etc. Students with disabilities at the post-secondary level may be stereotyped as “child-like” and unable to make decisions in their own best interests." Considering someone a burden to someone's work, less capable or not "normal" are ableist beliefs but often this is not recognized even by very well meaning individuals.
It is essential that faculty be mindful that their attitudes and beliefs about disability do not further disable students with disabilities as it is not uncommon that persons with disabilities experience internalized ableism. Meaning, students with disabilities undergo a "personal acceptance, or endorsement of, negative attitudes and beliefs about disability towards self by persons with disabilities. This results in a negative self-concept including but not limited to feeling less than, self-doubt about capability, feeling they are a burden and that they do not belong (Government of Ontario, 2022). Burstow (2003) noted this “Internalization occurs through the accumulative, residual and reoccurring experiences of (ableism)…" (as cited in Campbell, 2008, 155).
We encourage faculty to be creative, flexible and compasionate as we work through the accommodation process together.
- OHRC Policy on Ableism and Discrimination based on Disability
- OHRC E-Learning on Ableism and Discrimination based on Disability
- TED Talk: Aimee Mullins, The Opportunity of Adversity (Aimee Mullins shares the impact of the definition of disability and being considered incapable of achieving success before she ever had the opportunity to demonstrate her capabilities)