Module 3: Principles for Accessible Education

Accessible Education through Flexibility, Alignment, Variety, and Explicitness

Moving Accessible Education Forward

In practice, Flexibility, Alignment, Variety, and Explicitness (FAVE) can be integrated and applied in many different ways to your teaching and learning context to advance Accessible Education.

These four principles will support the enhancement of learning and inclusion for all learners, and contribute to the ultimate goals of FLEX Forward, which are to Focus on Learning and Eliminating eXclusion.

Intended Outcomes of Flexibility, Alignment, Variety, and Explicitness
All students have usable, equitable, and timely access to the information they need to succeed
  • Students are provided with the explicit information they need to effectively learn and navigate the university
  • Information is communicated in varied ways so all students have equitable access
  • Learning goals and expectations are clear, communicated in advance, and aligned with educational materials and activities so that students can plan how to and prepare to meet these objectives
Students’ non-traditional and historically marginalized knowledge is valued
  • A varied learning environment values different ways of knowing and forms of knowledge, rather than privileging one perspective
  • Historically marginalized and excluded knowledges (e.g. service user perspectives, Indigenous worldviews) are embraced and celebrated through diverse course materials, teaching methods, and assessments, rather than treated as a problem or deficit (Larkin, Nihill, & Devlin, 2014)
  • Learners are encouraged and supported to actively participate in the varied and fluid creation of knowledge, rather than passively and rigidly receive knowledge from instructors (Horsman, 2000; Weimer, 2012)
  • Commitments to equity and inclusion are consistently enacted in teaching and learning practice
All students are supported in their learning and provided opportunities to best demonstrate their knowledge
  • All students are supported in their learning through the facilitation of a flexible and varied learning environment where student differences are anticipated and welcomed and students gain competence and confidence in their strengths and abilities
  • Students can adapt material to their own learning goals
  • Students feel that instructors are approachable and care about their learning and accessible and inclusive classrooms
  • Students are offered a variety of assessment options that allow them to best demonstrate their knowledge and achievement of intended learning outcomes
Unnecessary and avoidable stress is reduced so students can focus on learning
  • Unnecessary rigidity, ambiguity, and power imbalances are reduced and opportunities for flexibility (control, options, self-determination, choice) are facilitated so that classrooms feel more transparent, responsive, comfortable, and equitable and student stress is reduced (Horsman, 2000; Weimer, 2012)
All students feel a sense of connection and belonging
  • Varied and inclusive course material and teaching and learning approaches support students in developing connections with ideas, scholarly communities, each other, the instructor and teaching staff, and with people and places beyond the university
  • Explicit and intentional efforts are made to foster relationships and connection

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Continue Your Learning

  • Listen to students with disabilities discuss the importance of promoting student self-determination and control rather than reinforcing harmful power imbalances.

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Applying our FAVE Four Words to Advance Accessible Education

To pull all of the pieces of this module together, we’ve developed this handout to illustrate how the Accessible Education methods of Flexibility, Alignment, Variety, and Explicitness can be applied to advance accessibility in teaching and learning.

As you consider the incorporation of Accessible Education principles to your own teaching practice, we encourage you to focus on actions and approaches that are feasible for you and will work most effectively in your disciplinary and instructional context.

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Self-Reflection

  • How might you adapt and apply Flexibility, Alignment, Variety, and Explicitness to accessibility barriers in your classroom and your own identified teaching tensions?

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Accessible Education through Flexibility, Alignment, Variety, and Explicitness Copyright © 2017 by McMaster University. All Rights Reserved.

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