Alexandra Burke

Gifu Women’s University

I'm the Publications Chair of the Accessibility in Language Learning SIG. I’m interim the issue of how classrooms can be more inclusive of students and staff with learning differences by using neuroscience based ideas and listening to the learners’ experiences.


Building an Accessibility Support Network

As learner needs become more apparent, diverse and complicated, teachers’ resources and strategies need to reflect these changes. The Act for Eliminating Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (2016) mandated the provision of equal educational opportunities for all learners, including those with special needs. University education is no exception. JASSO (2020) reported that the percentage of students with special needs in higher education rose by 50% in the last five years. This increase has started to raise the awareness among language teachers of inaccessibility to resources and that their teaching methods need to be modified accordingly. Even as LMS and online learning have improved accessibility and moved towards the creation of a virtual ‘barrier free’ classroom, there remains a strong need for support and collaboration. This forum will relate individual stories and experiences to a needs analysis framework for the purpose of assessing contexts and sharing strategies and resources. By creating a support network and database of resources, experiences and expertise, educators can work together to address the diversity of needs reflected in today’s classroom. The goal of this forum is to build on the establishment of an accessibility support network for language teachers and school administrators.