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February 28, 2016

Why do we provide accommodations? The simple answer…

To ensure everyone has access and opportunity to achieve success.

‘Accommodation’ and ‘adjustment’ are terms that we use when we talk about making an environment or a task more user friendly for a person – they’re terms that are often used when talking about disability or differences in learning/thinking or physical capabilities.

Accommodations are going to be different for each person (depending on their needs) but some of the more common that we suggest when supporting a person who may be unable to access an environment or task through the usual systems are;

* Modifying written and spoken information into plain language – avoid using complicated words or terms that may be difficult to understand or process. We want people to be able to engage and share, and using accessible language is part of this.

* Providing access to spaces at times that support a person’s ability to be organised and prepared – movement between classrooms and learning spaces is the perfect example of this, where we suggest accommodating early access to a locker to help with organising belongings for a class or to move through hallways before they become overwhelmingly noisy and busy.

* Providing quiet working spaces that support focus and the ability to concentrate on tasks – open plan spaces have become increasingly popular over recent years but it’s important that we understand that open plan doesn’t work for everyone, and that to enable everyone access to effective learning or working, we must also create spaces that cater for quiet and little distraction.

* Providing alternative options to handwriting – handwriting is not an easy task for all (it can be a physically painful process for some, and for some people the focus on handwriting can interfere with the thought process of ‘what to write’). With the technology that is now available to us, it is becoming easier all the time to provide accommodations for people who struggle with putting pen to paper – popular options include typing or ‘talk to text’ applications on devices.

Accommodations that can be made to support access and opportunity are endless – but the above are some ideas to start you thinking about your own environment.

Providing accommodations might require stepping outside of a system or a ‘usual’ way of doing things. It often means re-working a process or thinking a little outside the square so that tasks and environments can cater for different needs. But for our environments and communities to be accessible for all, and for opportunities for success to be available for all, they are something that we must be prepared to create and allow.

How do you provide accommodations to the people you support?

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