Addressing Historical Exclusions by Building Inclusive Classrooms

While it is true that accessibility benefits everyone, and that accessible teaching will impact all students in positive ways, in this resource we also set out to intentionally address the fact that educational institutions have historically marginalized people with disabilities and those from other equity-seeking communities.

This FLEX Forward resource is an example of how the university is working to respond to and remedy this history. Creating accessible learning environments will help all students, and especially those who have been traditionally prevented from participating in and succeeding at postsecondary education (Dolmage, 2005).

Case Study with Manifying Glass

Case Study: We Need to Remember

Education systems have played a devastating role in the colonization of Indigenous children through Residential Schools. Disabled young people, as well as those from low income, racialized, and newcomer communities, have often been streamed and segregated into school programs that are of poor quality and limit opportunities to pursue postsecondary education. In brief, the history of education is also a history of exclusion. This is a history we need to – and are working to – collectively reconcile as members of McMaster’s community. Efforts on campus to respond to these historical and ongoing exclusions and harms can be reviewed in Appendix B.

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Recognizing and Respecting Disability Advocacy

In this resource, we want to specifically highlight the important work that disability communities have been engaging in for decades to remove barriers and promote the dignity and worth of people with disabilities.

Institutional, municipal, provincial, and federal attention to accessibility — including accessibility in teaching and learning — has been provoked and inspired by disabled people and the disability rights movement. We need to be aware of and respect this history and find ways to actively support it.


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