Top 10 Ways to Make Your Classroom More Accessible

August means the start of a new school year! For teachers, this is a perfect time to consider Universal Design for Learning (UDL). This approach structures learning to meet the needs of every student in the classroom.

Check out our top 10 suggestions to make the classroom a more inclusive environment.

  1. Allot time in class for students to work on homework assignments with other students.
  2. Freely offer and make available feedback during both in-class work and tests.
  3. Make sure that students have the time to complete tests in class, with enough extra to doublecheck work and make necessary adjustments from your feedback.
  4. Provide alternative options for lessons and content, like Khan Academy for math or Sparknotes for English and reading comprehension. Try to only use videos with captioning available; besides the obvious benefits for students with hearing issues, captioning aids in comprehension across the board for all students.
  5. Record lessons and make them available both as an audio file and as a transcription with a speech-to-text program for easy playback for students working at home.
  6. When teaching, consider providing a note-taking template or writing notes on the board. These notes should be simple for students to write down and understand both in and out of the classroom. (We suggest Cornell notes, which provide excellent structure and organization of information.)
  7. Allow students to choose where they sit. Only intervene when necessary to prevent disruptive behavior or to move students with specific accommodations to where they can best succeed. For example, some students may find that they work best when they have the freedom to get up, stand, stretch, or fidget. In that case, those students may find the back of the room most beneficial.
  8. Outside of covering the material, consider taking the time to help students learn effective study and note-taking methods to help them excel in all aspects of education.
  9. Place a weekly calendar in a high visibility point in the classroom with due dates and daily lesson plans. This will not only help students stay on track with homework but will also keep them from being surprised by a quiz, test, or other assignment.
  10. Physical accommodations are vital in reducing literal barriers to learning in the classroom. We recommend leaving wide walkways and paths that can accommodate a variety of mobility disabilities. Even if you don’t currently have any students with mobility disabilities, students may develop them or have parents that already do.

To learn more and get more helpful tips and info about UDL, we suggest checking out these websites:

Common Classroom Accommodations and Modifications | Understood

How Teachers Can Make Their Classrooms More Accessible for Students with Disabilities | American University

UDL: The UDL Guidelines (cast.org)

Three students write at their desks. The boy in the front is sitting in a wheelchair.