Teaching Students with Disabilities (I)

Hi there everyone. The LINC teaching blog is up after a brief interlude, beginning afresh with a new theme that may be worthy of a series of entries. Since becoming law in 2005 the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) legislated a set of rules that universities need to comply with, by set dates, in order to improve accessibility to people with disabilities. Since 2010 the university has had to provide accessible customer service in order to serve customers of all abilities by allowing assistive devices, allowing service animals, and welcoming support persons. Since 2013 the university has had to train educators on how to teach accessible programs, provide accessible educational information, and provide accessible school library resources. More on AODA laws can be found here https://www.ontario.ca/page/about-accessibility-laws , and dates of AODA compliance here https://www.ontario.ca/page/accessibility-rules-school-libraries#section-4 .

It is time to consider some factors that teaching librarians and their teaching assistants should take into account when delivering workshops, seeking to make them accessible to all library patrons. Let’s begin by looking at some basic initial steps an instructor could take in order to make his or her workshop accessible:

General Suggestions on Teaching Students with Disabilities

Get more disability information. AccessAbility Services has valuable information on disability resources: https://uwaterloo.ca/disability-services/. Some students coming to library workshops may have made arrangements through Library Accessibility Services (https://uwaterloo.ca/library/accessibility/) for in class accommodation, which could include a note taker, access to materials unavailable on-line, use of a laptop in class, FM system, or portable CCTV. To provide instructional sessions in an accessible manner the instructor should take into account the diverse needs of potential participants when preparing for public instructional sessions and proactively seek to accommodate participants with disabilities in their preferred manner. More information on providing accessible customer service at the university can be found in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Toolkit: https://uwaterloo.ca/library/aoda-toolkit/customer-service-standard/customer-service-commitment . Keep in mind that since students are usually the experts on their own disabilities you could ask them if you require more information about how they learn best and what they need in order to learn; however, also keep in mind that students have the right not to divulge the nature of their disability, so instructors should not ask what disability the student has, but rather how the student can be best accommodated.

As the sub-title to this section indicates these are general suggestions and information for teaching librarians and their assistants to consider, not a comprehensive set of rules. Indeed this blog is using AODA legislation as the starting point and background to discussion, but it is not meant to be an official and complete exposition of OADA regulations

Stay tuned for next month’s continuation of teaching students with disabilities where we will look at tips for teaching students who have specific disabilities.

Thank you,

The Library Instruction Committee


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