This Professional Development Module has been designed to offer school boards and schools optimum flexibility in addressing the training requirements of the province’s Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The specific provisions require: "school boards ......... shall provide educators with accessibility awareness training related to accessible program or course delivery and instruction."
While there are common core elements in each version of this Introductory Module on Accessibility Awareness for Classroom-based Staff, options are provided to enable training in each of the following formats:
- 3 hour (Half Day)
- 45 – 60 minute Staff Meeting
- Lunch and Learn or Series of Sessions
Module – Core Elements
The core elements of this Accessibility Awareness Professional Development Module include:
- Viewing the Lieutenant Governor’s address
- Viewing the PowerPoint introduction to the legislation
- Visiting the website to learn about its content
- Building commitment through exploring the key messages in the materials that best connect with or speak to the goals of the staff and school
- Using one or more of the continuums related to those goals as tools for self-reflection
- Discussing connections between accessibility and all subject areas and teaching strategies
- Reflecting on the key messages about accessibility awareness and professional practices
- Identifying areas for next steps for professional learning or action
Using the Accessibility Awareness Module
The activities and formats below are intended to help facilitators plan professional learning activities to assist staff implement lessons about Accessibility Awareness for students. Although the legal requirements are foundational, it is very important that learning for staff be connected to school and classroom goals and professional practice. Real change will take place only if accessibility awareness is embedded in the culture of the school. This is a context that should also be shared with individual staff members who pursue the “self-directed” professional learning option.
I. Getting Started and Gaining Perspective
EXPLORING THE BIG IDEAS: ACCESSIBILITY AWARENESS MESSAGES
The Accessibility Awareness messages link professional development to the lessons for students. They are the core ideas of accessibility awareness. (Please see Appendix A for the entire list.) Some of these messages appear in every lesson as Big Ideas.
As an introductory activity and to set the tone for this important work, ask staff members to read the list and highlight or check three to five messages that have particular significance or resonance for them. In a small group, ask the participants to explain their choices, advocate for the importance of their choices and tell stories about personal connections to their choices.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION
Questions for discussion in small groups:
- What does the term “accessibility” mean?
- What are the most important accessibility issues for students and staff in our school?
- In what ways is our school accessible to students and staff?
- Why might it be important for all students and staff to become more aware of accessibility issues?
- What is meant by the term “strengths-based perspective”? Share some examples of how you use a strength-based perspective in your practice.
- The word “perspective” appears often throughout various Ministry of Education documents. Why is perspective important in teaching?
View one of the videos from the National Film Board of Canada or another source. (Although many of the NFB videos are somewhat dated and many are quite long, they are still informative and inspirational.) What questions do you have after watching the video? What did you learn from the video?
INDEX CARD ACTIVITY:
- Distribute one index card to each participant.
- Before they watch the video of His Honour Lieutenant-Governor David Onley’s address, let participants know that, as they are viewing, they should make note of one quote from the address that they feel is new information, inspirational or particularly interesting.
- View His Honour David Onley’s address
- Ask participants to find a partner with whom to share the quote.
- Ask them to trade cards, find a new partner and repeat the process.
- Repeat this process 4-5 times. (Participants no longer have their own card.)
- Ask participants to discuss with an elbow partner which quotes were the most common, the most relevant, the most interesting or the most surprising.
- Prior to the meeting, prepare posters with the current School Improvement Plan for Student Achievement (SIPSA) goals.
- View the address His Honour Lieutenant-Governor David Onley.
- Ask participants to identify quotes that support their school’s SIPSA goals.
- Place these quotes on the SIPSA goal posters.
- Ask participants to walk around the room and write a brief message on the posters about what the quotes might look like in their classrooms.
- Ask participants to tour the room again to review all completed posters.
- Leave the posters up in the staff room for a while so that participants can reinforce their learning and their thinking.