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3 Truths & a Lie: Accommodations

6 colored flair pens: above says 'new season', below says 'new opportunity'

As July winds down and summer slowly ends, a new school year and a new season of church activities are right around the corner. One of my love languages is new school supplies (helloooooo flair pends and hard-covered spiral notebooks!), so back to school is always an exciting time for me. This also marks the perfect time to start preparing intentional and authentic ways to be more disability-inclusive!

quote: what's necessary for some is good for all

During my many years as a special education teacher, one thing that I found to be extremely helpful in prepping for the upcoming year was reviewing student IEPs and thinking specifically about what each student would need in order to have access to the content presented. For some friends, it was through the use of visual supports. Some friends learned best when they were at least familiar with the key vocabulary of the lesson or activity. Other friends learned best in highly structured and predictable settings. Knowing these things ahead of time and being purposeful about planning with specific accommodations in mind helped my students have successful school years.

signage: August is for Accommodations

A great foundation in disability inclusion and accessibility is best built from the beginning when the groundwork for the upcoming season or year is underway. A solid piece of the foundation is understanding accommodations and their benefits, which is why August at Intent to Include is going to be based around just that: ACCOMMODATIONS

So, in the spirit of previewing upcoming vocabulary and concepts as well as providing you with a direction of focus (see what I did there ; ) ), let's kick it off with 3 truths and a lie about accommodations!

Truth #1: Most accommodations fall into 1 of 4 categories: presentation, response, setting, & timing.

As you prepare for what's ahead, you can pre-plan how you might provide access by being mindful of the ways things are presented, providing optional ways for people to respond or engage, creating settings that communicate accessibility, & using strategic timing and structure.

While there are TONS of ways to accommodate each of those categories, here are a few low/no prep accommodations that can help you get started.

Graphic with accommodations in 4 quadrants

Truth #2: What's necessary for some is good for all.

In education, we often talk about accommodations as being "just good teaching".

This is the basic idea that great teachers will do what they need to do, whether it's on paper or not, to help a student succeed. Those things that are often correlated with going "above and beyond" are likely not anything other than accommodating with the intent of creating access. Most time, what's done specifically to meet the needs of some are actually practices that help everyone!

Truth #3: The purpose of accommodations is to create systems of acess.

The ultimate goal of planning for and providing accommodations is to ensure we're really being mindful about including all in our ministries and outreach. More than just personal listening devices and wheelchair ramps, accommodations engrained in our programs are one way that we can communicate our desire to do better when it comes to being mindful of disability inclusion. If someone shows up wearing reading glasses, we wouldn't say they have an unfair advantage. We would recognize that those glasses give them access to sight. Accommodations provide access, not advantage.

Lie: It takes a lot of money and a lot of resources to accommodate. Plus, this isn't my area of expertise!
  • In the words of Dwight Schrute: "FALSE".

  • In the words of the Listen Linda kid: "Listen, Linda".

  • In the words of Mr. Chanendelor Bong: "Could that BE more of a lie?"

You get it ; )

Friends, there are so many ways to pre-plan for access through accommodations. The cute little graphic with a few scrolls or swipes up (#thanksverymuch) has some pretty straightforward ideas that can help us reframe how we approach instruction and teaching so that from the beginning, it's more thoughtful.

But I'm not going to leave it at that. In August, I'll break down each of the 4 categories of accommodations. Each week, we'll dive a little deeper into a type of accommodation and I'll share some common strategies and considerations for disabilities related to behavior, language & communication, functional, cognitive and intellectual, etc.

Here's what you can expect from Intent to Include in August.

If this content resonated with you or made you a little bit more excited about the upcoming year, I'd love to hear from you! Know someone who might be excited to read a little bit about accommodations? Give this a share.

Until next time, friends!



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