As we write and edit our syllabi, here are some helpful resources on writing disability statements, or editing the institutional ones we are offered, in the interest of inclusive classrooms and pedagogies.
Questions To Ask Ourselves
In her post “What Are Accessibility Statements For and What Do They Do?” Professor Shelley Tremain offers a few questions about disability statements for instructors who are interested in creating inclusive classroom spaces. The questions she suggests we ask ourselves are about responsibility (who does our statement suggest is responsible for ‘accommodations’?), inclusivity (does the statement respond to medical problems, or does it assume that disability is a matter of social justice?), and intentionality (do we quickly pass over the statement as if it were a technicality, or do we intentionally discuss it and its importance for the course as a whole?).
In this post, Professor Tremain also offers the following sample statement that she crafted, titled “Accessibility,” taking into account the questions above:
Your well-being and success in this course are important to me. I recognize that there are *multiple* ways to learn and that this multiplicity should be acknowledged in the design and structure of university courses and the evaluation of their participants. Thus, I encourage students registered in the course to discuss their learning styles and comprehension requirements with me during my office hours or, if necessary, at another arranged time.
Every student is entitled to a meaningful and stimulating learning experience. Disabled students are also strongly encouraged to avail themselves of the services provided by the campus Accessibility Services Office, including the provision of note-takers, extra time for assignments, transcribers, and sign-language interpreters. The Accessibility Services Office is located on the first floor of Robarts Library, 130 St. George St., or visit the Accessibility Services website at: http://studentlife.utoronto.ca/accessibility.htm for more information. In addition, you can call OISE Student Services at (416) 987-2277 or visit the OISE Student Services website.
Placement, Language, and Further Resources
In her post, Professor Tremain also directs those interested to PraxisWiki, “Suggested Practices For Syllabus Accessibility Statements,” where we can find further questions to consider when crafting our own disability statements. Tara Wood and Shannon Madden ask us to consider the language that we use (how should we title the statement? Disability or Accessibility? What are the benefits and risks involved in our choice?), or where we place it on the syllabus (is it at the end, as an afterthought, or is it featured more prominently?). This page also offers samples of disability statements and further resources to think about the place of disability in the classroom and beyond.