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Educators with Disabilities: Part 2

In Part 1 of this article, we outlined what educational institutions must do to accommodate educators with disabilities under the current AODA. We also briefly discuss the benefits of having more educators with disabilities in schools. In Part 2, we explore why some educational institutions may not be hiring educators with disabilities. We also consider strategies that school boards and teacher’s colleges can use to welcome more educators with disabilities into their schools.

Educators with Disabilities, Part 2

The shortage of educators with disabilities may be due to attitudinal barriers. For instance, schools, colleges, or universities may think they cannot hire candidates with disabilities. They may feel this way because they do not know about accommodations that teachers with disabilities use. For instance, some accommodations that teachers with disabilities might use are informational. For example, a teacher who is deaf might have an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter in the classroom.

Moreover, other accommodations might involve changes to workstations, such as a raised desk. In another example, a teacher could make presentations in advance instead of writing on the board. Furthermore, other accommodations could involve a teacher’s schedule. For example, if a teacher needs to start later in the day, the first class every day could be scheduled as their planning time. Likewise, a teacher with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may need to avoid noisy places like the cafeteria at lunch. This teacher might instead take responsibility for supervising smaller groups at lunch or after school, such as students in detention. Finally, teachers may use structural accommodations, like automatic doors or accessible washrooms.

Many accommodations, such as rearranging tasks and asking students to hand their work in online, are not costly. In contrast, other accommodations, such as classroom ASL interpreters or installing accessible washrooms, are more expensive. However, government funding is available for employers, including schools, to offset accommodation costs.

Student Teachers with Disabilities

Alternatively, teacher’s colleges may feel that they cannot accept students with disabilities into their programs. They may feel this way because they believe that people need certain abilities to teach. For example, they may think that all teachers need to make eye contact with students and respond to raised hands. However, a student-teacher who is blind could not teach this way. Instead, they might keep track of who is paying attention by listening. Similarly, they could have students say their names when they want to speak in class instead of raising their hands. Student-teachers with disabilities can create teaching strategies that may look unusual, but work for them and their students. Teacher’s colleges should respect these strategies and support student-teachers as they develop more.

School boards or teacher’s colleges could also publicize their interest in accepting applicants with disabilities. More educators with disabilities would help to create a truly inclusive school system.

For many students with disabilities, finding employment in education and other fields involves job placements. In our next article, we will explore how to make job placements accessible for students with disabilities.