Creating, Resisting or Neglecting Change: Exploring the Complexities of Accessible Education for Students with Disabilities
Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
Recent teaching and learning scholarship has documented the importance of uncovering and removing barriers to learning experienced by students with disabilities (e.g., Cook, Rumrill, & Tankersley, 2009). At the same time, in Ontario, new legislation is making this issue especially pronounced. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA, 2005), mandates universal access for persons with disabilities, requiring the removal of barriers to their full participation in all aspects of
... in all aspects of society, including higher education. This article reports on the first phase of a larger project designed to collect qualitative data about the effects of the AODA legislation on the teaching and learning environment at one University. Building on previous work that investigates students with disabilities' experiences of tertiary learning (e.g., Healey, Bradley, Fuller, & Hall, 2006) , it reports on the results of semistructured interviews that explored the ways in which students with and without disabilities, instructors, administrators, and staff perceive the relative accessibility and inclusiveness of teaching and learning at this institution, with an eye to ultimately enhancing learning for all students. Results from this first phase suggest a number of areas in which both barriers to and facilitators of educational accessibility exist at the study University, including: attitudes; knowledge; disciplinary features; pedagogical choices; and, institutional practices. We suggest that these findings may be of relevance to others in different constituencies and contexts, and provide recommendations for enacting change related to teaching and learning accessibility and thereby improving the student learning experience.