Is Your Classroom Equipped For Differently-Abled Students?
According to the World Bank, as many as one billion school-going children, which constitutes 15 per cent of the total population, have either physical or mental disabilities. However, not many schools around the world are equipped to accommodate and teach this section of learners. What should a school do to be inclusive of differently-abled students? In honour of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities which is observed on December 3, let us look at some effective steps to make schools inclusive.
Make Your School Disabled-Friendly
A lot of schools are not equipped with necessary facilities like wheelchairs, ramps, rails or special toilets to suit the needs of differently-abled children. As a person with cerebral palsy (locomotor disability), I had to put up with schools that were not wheelchair friendly. Inconvenience in mobility dampens specially-abled learners’ eagerness to go to school either due to the difficulty of access or over-dependence on others. Lack of accessibility becomes a major reason behind kids with special needs leaving their education unfinished. Small yet thoughtful changes in the infrastructure of your school can help all types of learners access the education they deserve. A ramp to enter the building or a lift (elevator) to access classrooms can make all the difference to such learners.
Cater to All Types of Disabilities
Special needs of differently-abled students may vary based on their disabilities. A student with visual impairment or dyslexia, for example, may not be able to make the best of regular classroom teaching because he/she is unable to understand what is taught. Therefore, schools must make learning material multidimensional. Content must be made available in Braille, audio and video formats along with the regular textbooks. Similarly, other minor yet impactful changes can help you accommodate all kinds of learners. This will help all the students, irrespective of their limitations, progress together.
Sensitise Little Ones
Inclusion in its true sense can only be implemented when differently-abled students are given equal opportunity to mingle with other students. This gives them a sense of belonging. Empathy comes very naturally to kids. All they need is the initial guidance to start helping a classmate who needs extra care. Teach students in a class to take care of each other, give them the chance to understand each other and always guide them when they are in need. These informal teachings will go a long way and before you know it, your little learners will become excellent caregivers.
Set Learner-Specific Goals
While trying to include children with disabilities into the mainstream, always keep their limitations in mind. To make learning smooth and effective, start working on simple yet important aspects of learning. Remember that every learner is unique. If one child takes 10 minutes to learn a concept, another may take 20 to learn the same. Allowing this will convey that ultimately it is learning that is important, not the pace of learning. To achieve this goal, NextAssessment provides children with an opportunity to learn at their own pace through the Adaptive Assessment feature. This feature allows setting the difficulty level of questions based on how the student answers. It helps teachers gauge a child’s learning ability and work for his/her improvement.
Encourage Learning Through Appreciation
Appreciation is a great motivator for everyone. This is especially true for specially-abled children who have to overcome more challenges. When appreciated, they feel motivated to reach their goal. Whether it is learning to write on a paper or recite a poem in class, a clap or a pat on their back will motivate them to go the extra mile.
Creating an inclusive classroom is all about being just a little thoughtful, sensitive and empathetic in your teaching methods. What you teach kids at an early age stays with them for the rest of their lives and becomes a part of their personality. An inclusive classroom is the beginning of an inclusive society.