Accessibility requires we continue ongoing support of students with disabilities, as well as broaden our understanding of how we can create and sustain accessible educational experiences for all learners.
Providing accessible educational experiences for students is a notion that few would argue against, but many struggle to implement. Operationalizing the concept of accessibility is challenging, but necessary to meet the needs of all students.
Discussions about accessibility in higher education ecapsulate the concept as being synonymous with disability-friendly, but a shift in perspective is required. While this shift will continue to include the ongoing support of students with disabilities, it will require us to broaden our understanding of how Memorial can create and sustain accessible educational experiences for all learners.
For the purpose of this resource, accessibility is defined as the process of proactively considering, identifying and eliminating potential barriers to learning for all students. Such barriers could be attitudinal, systemic, technological and/or physical.
This evolving view of accessibility must also consider a number of other demographic and academic factors. We must consider such factors as gender identity and expression; racial, ethnic and Indigenous identities; as well as the needs of adult learners, students with children and first-generation university students.
Academic factors to consider when exploring accessible learning environments include a student’s prior educational experiences and their level of academic readiness.