Charting the Landscape of Accessible Education for Post-secondary Students with Disabilities

  • Elizabeth Marquis Arts & Science Program and McMaster Institute for Innovation & Excellence in Teaching & Learning, McMaster University
  • Ann Fudge Schormans School of Social Work, McMaster University
  • Bonny Jung School of Rehabilitation Science, McMaster University
  • Christina Vietinghoff Arts & Science Program and McMaster Institute for Innovation & Excellence in Teaching & Learning, McMaster University
  • Rob Wilton School of Geography & Earth Sciences, McMaster University
  • Sue Baptiste School of Rehabilitation Science, McMaster University
Keywords: Accessibility, Inclusion, Students with disabilities, Disability legislation, Teaching and learning, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

Abstract

This article presents the results of research examining the impact of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) on educational accessibility at one university in Ontario, Canada. A longitudinal, qualitative study was conducted to explore how students with and without disabilities, instructors, staff members and administrators perceived the relative accessibility of teaching and learning on campus before, during, and after the implementation of one portion of the AODA legislation. In the first phase of this research, several factors affecting educational accessibility at the study university were noted, including knowledge, attitudes, pedagogical choices, disciplinary features, and institutional practices and characteristics. Participants raised many of these issues in the later phases reported here, although some preliminary changes in awareness and institutional practices are also described. Based on these minimal developments, and on participants’ expressed perceptions of the AODA, we conclude that the legislation has had limited impact on the accessibility of teaching and learning on campus to date. Implications of the findings, potentially applicable in many contexts beyond the Ontario setting where the research was conducted, as well as next steps and recommendations for further research are discussed.

Author Biographies

Elizabeth Marquis, Arts & Science Program and McMaster Institute for Innovation & Excellence in Teaching & Learning, McMaster University

Elizabeth Marquis is an assistant professor in the Arts & Science program and the McMaster Institute for Innovation and Excellence in Teaching and Learning at McMaster University. Her teaching and learning research interests include accessibility and inclusion in teaching and learning, the teaching of creativity across disciplines, and capacity building for the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL).

Ann Fudge Schormans, School of Social Work, McMaster University

Ann Fudge Schormans is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at McMaster University. Her research interests centre on questions related to disability, particularly issues important to people labelled with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She engages in community-based research and partnerships, particularly participatory and inclusive research methodologies and arts-informed methodologies that facilitate more active participation of labelled persons.

Bonny Jung, School of Rehabilitation Science, McMaster University

Bonny Jung is an Associate Professor in the School of Rehabilitation Science and Director of the Program for Interprofessional Practice, Education, and Research (PIPER) at McMaster University. Her research focuses on interprofessional and clinical education, problem-based learning and university-community partnerships, and inclusive education.

Christina Vietinghoff, Arts & Science Program and McMaster Institute for Innovation & Excellence in Teaching & Learning, McMaster University

Christina Vietinghoff recently graduated from the Arts and Science Program at McMaster University, where she worked as a student scholar for the McMaster Institute for Innovation and Excellence in Teaching and Learning (MIIETL).

Rob Wilton, School of Geography & Earth Sciences, McMaster University

Rob Wilton is a professor of social geography in the School of Geography and Earth Sciences at McMaster University.  His research focuses primarily on social inclusion and exclusion with particular emphasis on disability, mental health and addiction.  

Sue Baptiste, School of Rehabilitation Science, McMaster University

Sue Baptiste is a Professor in the School of Rehabilitation Science at McMaster University and a recent President of the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists. Her research interests include professional development, competence and self assessment, acculturation of internationally educated health professionals into Canadian professional practice, and faculty development and roles in problem-based, learner-centred curricula.

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