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Disability, Ableism, Inclusive Learning, and Accessibility
Disability, Ableism, Inclusive Learning, and Accessibility

Disability, Ableism, Inclusive Learning, and Accessibility

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Time & Location

Dec 19, 2023, 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM EST


About the event

Why is this important: While there is not a debate, per se, about disability access in the classroom, on-campus and in the workplace, ensuring everyone understands the importance of accommodations, access, and unintentional language/implicit bias regarding ableism is essential for teachers, faculty, human resources staff and administrators. There was a massive shift in the accommodation and disability world during COVID-19 that shook some of the core tenets around what a school, college and/or workplace can accommodate related to online work and learning. Suddenly, all courses were online and accessible in ways that were outright denied just weeks before the shutdown. Employees who had been denied requests to work from home or have a flexible schedule found themselves required to work in this capacity. In this post COVID-19 landscape, teachers, administrators, faculty, and human resources staff need to understand the conversation as it relates to issues of stigma when seeking help, systemic barriers to access for certain populations, and the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) examples of ableism.

Program overview: This program will draw from the book, How to Engage in Difficult Conversations on Identity, Race, and Politics in Higher Education, to better prepare teachers, faculty, administrators, and human resources to engage in these difficult conversations more effectively. The presenters will share an overview of the history and importance of disability rights and access in schools, higher education, and the workplace while introducing key topics such as regulations, accessibility/universally designed learning environments, accommodation, ableism, and stigma. They will share the legal requirements, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, as well as explain our responsibilities to provide access via accessible design and accommodations. Participants will review how to be an effective ally in this space and better understand the landscape of how best to ensure equality and fairness for all in education and the workplace. Discussion of hidden disabilities and mental illness will also be provided.

Group exercises, case examples, and sample discussion questions will be provided to further the conversation. Handouts on a variety of topics including barriers to accessibility, universal design and assistive technologies are included. A sample exercise, exploration questions, case study, discussion question, and some sample definitions that will be covered in the program are included here.

EXERCISE: In this powerful video from the New York Times (6 mins), disability rights activist Emily Ladau poses the question: “Why were we able to make the world virtually accessible only when it mattered for non-disabled people?” Normal Was Not Working For Everyone shares the story of three diverse people who describe their re-entry anxiety following the lifting of Covid-19 protocols all around the U.S. From racial discrimination to grappling with an inaccessible world, these stories reflect the important intersections the pandemic has brought to light and motivates us to think of a return to better instead of “normal.”

EXPLORATION: How can we limit bias and discrimination toward students with disabilities? What is one innovation or idea you can think of that will have a positive effect on disabled students?


An invisible disability is defined by the Invisible Disabilities Association as “a physical, mental or neurological condition that is not visible from the outside, yet can limit or challenge a person’s movement, senses, or activities” (Invisible Disabilities Association, 2022). Visible or apparent disability is defined as a physical, mental, or neurological condition that is observed, or assumed by observation, to exist. Often visible/apparent disabilities are assumed when assistive technology is utilized, such as a wheelchair, hearing aide, cane, etc.

Assistive technology is defined as “any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a persons with disability” (Assistive Technology Industry Association, 2022).

Intersectionality reflects the insight that race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nation, ability, and age operate in context to one another, and that the marginalizing impact upon those who hold multiple identities must be considered through that lens (Crenshaw, 1991).

Participants will be able to:

  • Discuss their understanding of disability from a wider and more informed perspective that includes mental illness, physical disabilities, and hidden disabilities.
  • Be able to identify our legal responsibilities in schools, college/university, and workplaces to ensure access to those with disabilities.
  • Review the importance of learning about and understanding how stereotypes, stigma, and misinformation impact those with disabilities and how to be an ally in this area.
  • Address how to ensure all have access to what they need to be successful in the school, college and workplace settings.

Program includes:

  • Online access to the live 90-minute program.
  • A recorded version* of the program on along with test questions and a compliance report for the administrator of a department, college, or university.
  • Three interactive sample exercises to encourage discussion in school and college settings.
  • A detailed handout reviewing the common barriers to accessibility, including physical and digital barriers and strategies for addressing accessibility barriers, including universal design and assistive technologies.
  • A detailed handout exploring the sources of stigma (including stereotypes and misinformation) and ways to address stigma, including awareness, advocacy and community-building.
  • A checklist for human resources staff addressing issues of accommodation in the workplace.
  • Discussion questions for group discussion to continue after the live program.

* Access for one year after the date of the live program. Additional year(s) access available for 20% purchase price.

Photo credit: Disabled And Here


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