"The myth is that one can design inclusion / exclusion neutral and make the necessary changes ... Unfortunately, accessibility is not a layer of coat that needs to be applied at the end of a building project, but rather the iron that strengthens the concrete. As everybody knows, that iron needs to be there before the concrete, and cannot be inserted afterwards" (Steyaert, J., 2005, p.76).
It is important to consider questions of inclusion when designing teaching. Just as an architect considers accessibility when designing a building so as to avoid the need for future retrofitting solutions, course designers can consider accessibility when designing curricula so as to lessen the need for future reasonable accommodations.
Figure 1shows retrofitting while figure 2 shows universal design in architecture. For more, see the analogy (Word, 41kb) between inclusive curriculum and universal design in architecture.
Clarity and flexibility are central to inclusive curriculum design.
It is important to know from the outset what is essential and non-negotiable in a module / programme of study and where flexibility can be introduced.
To do this consider:
- your learning outcomes,
- skills, knowledge and competencies required,
- professional fitness to practice standards where applicable.
Ensure students are clear on what will be expected within your module / programme. Offer clear, comprehensive information to students in advance.
Aim for maximum possible flexibility within teaching, learning, and assessment. This will benefit all students.
- Seek to use technology as a supplement to class room contact.
- Use a range of
- teaching methods,
- teaching materials,
- assessment methods,
- Where possible, offer a choice of assessment methods (e.g. essay or presentations). View a testimonial from TCD's Occupational Therapy who offered a choice of assessment,
- Offer a choice between modules at programme level.
For further details on clarity and flexibility see Principles of Inclusive Teaching
Consider library, IT and group work facilities when designing teaching and assessment.
For further details see Facilities
- Publish timetables in good time
- Clarify your attendance policy
- Consider the time taken to get between venues when timetabling
- Start and finish classes on time
Take time to complete a brief self-evaluation of your:
- teaching design practices (4 questions)
- programme design practices (7 questions)
- module design practices (6 questions)