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Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Since 2012, the third Thursday in May has been known as Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). It focuses on accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities and impairments—an estimated more than 1 billion people worldwide currently. By embracing accessibility principles, educators can foster an environment where all students feel valued, empowered, and supported in their language learning journeys.

  1. Provide flexibility

Flexibility is a wide umbrella that can cover multiple aspects of the learning environment and process. To truly create a more accessible classroom, you must be flexible in numerous ways. Instead of simply accepting late work or having flexible due dates, try giving students multiple way to turn in an assignment—for example, either digitally or as a hard copy. You can also be flexible when assigning work by allowing students to choose how to show their learning—for instance, through written expression or in a multimedia presentation.

  1. Pool your resources

Sometimes it’s not the lack of resources that get in the way of inclusivity, but rather, not knowing where to find them. This is where your fellow teachers can be a big help in preventing burnout. Consider creating a shared drive where teachers can pool their resources and share what has worked for them. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel each time, you can lean on and learn from your colleagues and vice versa.

  1. Implement principles from Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

The principles of UDL go together with the idea of being flexible. This educational framework encourages multiple means of engagement, representation, and action and expression. Multiple entry points in each of these categories cover the “why,” “what,” and “how” of the learning experience. The aspiration of UDL is to cultivate a classroom where all students can feel motivated, resourceful, and goal directed.

  1. Create a community of inclusion

The learning environment includes more than just the tangible items and materials found in the classroom. By purposefully celebrating diversity of many kinds—cultural, language, physical, and neuro—you are making your classroom more inclusive and accessible as you foster a community where students feel comfortable learning. This feeling of belonging encourages collaboration and cooperative learning, at the same time as it encourages peers to help each other.

  1. Provide language support services

As a language teacher, you are already making a point of creating a supportive learning environment where students feel comfortable practicing their language skills and expressing themselves. This is particularly important for students who are English-language learners. Offer bilingual resources when available and pull in school- or district-wide services that will help students access the curriculum.

  1. Be adaptable with seating

Look at the physical layout of your classroom when addressing students’ needs and accommodations. There are many accessibility needs to consider besides just visual impairments. For example, students with mobility impairments or sensory sensitivities may also benefit from seating accommodations. If possible, you could also designate spaces for quiet study or brief sensory breaks.


By Kelli Drummer-Avendano


Read also: Global Accessibility Awareness Day


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