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6 Tips for A More Accessible Classroom. Advice from @HabenGirma, First DeafBlind Graduate of @Harvard_Law

Haben Girma speaking to an audience of educators. Sign language interpreter. Guide dog lying down next to her.

(Image credit: Lisa Nielsen )

Are you doing everything possible to create an inclusive environment for your students?

Haben Girma, author of Haben: The DeafBlind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law spoke to educators at an Accessibility Expo in New York City. She shared advice for making schools more accessible for students.

Check out her six tips and consider how you can integrate them into your classroom this year.

6 tips for creating a more accessible and inclusive classroom

Multiple Formats

Use as many formats as possible to help students learn. The more formats you use; the more students you will reach.


Don’t make assumptions. Girma had teachers who assumed because she was blind she could not use computers or do art. She loves computers and they support accessibility. She also enjoys creating art. Rather than assume what a student can or can’t do, and before excusing them from an activity, start by trying to figure out how a topic can be made accessible. Speak to the student, other students, colleagues, and experts.

Role Models

Hire teachers with disabilities. Bring in speakers with disabilities. Have students with disabilities share ways they learn and live in this world.

Accessible Digital Content

All content you share with students should follow the web content accessibility guidelines. This enables students with disabilities, those who are not fluent in English, and everyone else, access content more effectively.

Teach Inclusion

Commit to teaching inclusively. If you’re not sure how to start, there are endless free resources online to help you get started.

Remove Barriers

Look around your school community. Identify barriers. Work to remove the barriers. Invite students to help.

Girma asks educators to just commit to doing one thing to make their school more accessible to students with disabilities. What could you commit to?

cross posted at The Innovative Educator

Lisa Nielsen (@InnovativeEdu) has worked as a public-school educator and administrator since 1997. She is a prolific writer best known for her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator. Nielsen is the author of several booksand her writing has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times,The Wall Street JournalTech&Learning, and T.H.E. Journal.