How is it defined?
Worldwide there are approximately 200 million children living with disabilities (Durkin, Gottlieb, Maenner, Cappa, & Loaiza, 2008). In the school environment, disabled children face numerous accessibility challenges, including difficulties navigating into and through school yards and school buildings, inadequate toilet facilities and disparities with emergency evacuation protocols (Stephens et al., 2017). Disabled children are also at risk for exclusion from participation in school activities, with potential repercussions to their well-being (Anaby et al., 2013). To best facilitate their inclusion in regular classroom settings, disabled children need opportunities to exhibit their capabilities, exert their own influence and reshape ideas surrounding classroom diversity (Higgins, MacArthur, & Kelly, 2009).
The mission of the Rick Hansen Foundation is to create and deliver innovative solutions that lead to a global movement to remove barriers and liberate the potential of people with disabilities. The foundation defines inclusion as “the practice of ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to fully participate in life” and accessibility as “the degree to which a product, device, activity, facility, service or environment allows everyone to participate fully and is available to everyone on an equal basis.”
In collaboration with The Rick Hansen Foundation, The Learning Bar developed a module to help educators assess the level of inclusivity and accessibility within their school environment. The content helps schools understand the challenges and barriers facing their students with mobility, vision and hearing impairments, and ensures that all students have equal access to the buildings, resources and tools they need to learn.
Why is it important?
- According to Statistics Canada, 3.7% of children under 15 and 4.6% of youth aged 15 to 19 report living with some form of disability (Statistics Canada, 2006).
- Children’s understanding and knowledge of the sources and impacts associated with various disabilities are limited (Nowicki, 2007).
- Negative attitudes towards disabled children present a barrier to their successful participation and integration within a community (Anaby et al., 2013)
- Inclusive educational practices challenge teachers to incorporate a variety of strategies to meet diverse learning needs which, in turn, benefits all students (Boyle, Scriven, Durning, & Downes, 2011).
How do we measure it?
The Rick Hansen Accessibility and Inclusivity module focuses on Secondary students’ perceptions of the importance of accessibility and the challenges and barriers faced by those with disabilities (Awareness), the amount of respect and empathy students have for individual differences (Acceptance), and their ability and willingness to create positive changes within their schools (Action). The accessibility data are scaled on a 10-point scale and the results are presented as “the average score for accessibility within the Interactive Charts.”
"Further detail" charts provide a breakdown of:
(a) awareness of challenges,
(b) awareness of physical barriers,
(c) acceptance of those with physical disabilities, and
(d) willingness to take action.
Anaby, D., Hand, C., Bradley, L., DiRezze, B., Forhan, M., DiGiacomo, A., & Law, M. (2013). The effect of the environment on participation of children and youth with disabilities: A scoping review. Disability and Rehabilitation, 35(19), 1589-1598.
Boyle, C., Scriven, B., Durning, S., & Downes, C. (2011). Facilitating the learning of all students: The ‘professional positive’ of inclusive practice in Australian primary schools. Support for Learning, 26(2), 72-78.
Durkin, M., Gottlieb, C., Maenner, M., Cappa, C., & Loaiza, E. (2008). Monitoring child disability in developing countries: Results from the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys. New York and Madison: UNICEF and University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
Higgins, N., MacArthur, J., & Kelly, B. (2009). Including disabled children at school: Is it really as simple as ‘a, c, d’?. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 13(5), 471-487.
Nowicki, E. A. (2007). Children’s beliefs about learning and physical difficulties. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 54(4), 417-428.
Statistics Canada. Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division. (2006). Participation and activity limitation survey 2006: Families of children with disabilities in Canada. (Catalogue no. 89-628-X No. 009). Ottawa, ON: Statistics Canada.
Stephens, L., Spalding, K., Aslam, H., Scott, H., Ruddick, S., Young, N. L., & McKeever, P. (2017). Inaccessible childhoods: Evaluating accessibility in homes, schools and neighbourhoods with disabled children. Children's Geographies, 15(5), 583-599.