Evaluating Accessibility of Classroom Spaces: A Micro-Scale Analysis

Authors: Gillian Acheson*, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Alyssa Hoog, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Topics: Geography Education, Disabilities
Keywords: Access, Inclusion, Classroom
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 52
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

As the importance of a college education has increased in recent decades, greater attention has turned to equality of access. In addition to expressing a desire to improve equality of access to all economic, geographic, and demographic groups, most universities express a desire to improve access for those with disabilities to campus facilities. Both the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the principles of Universal Design of Instruction (UDI) provide guidance on the accessibility and design of classroom spaces. For example, UDI requires that learning environments be designed “to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design” (Burgstahler 2020). This project investigates the extent to which a sample of classrooms at a mid-sized, public university meet accessibility requirements of the ADA and principles of UDI. Classroom spaces are evaluated using a standard set of criteria adapted from ADA priorities and UDI recommendations for physical environments. These criteria include (1) accessible approach and entrance; (2) maneuverability of aisles, pathways, tables and seats; (3) equitable use; (4) flexibility in use; (5) tolerance for error; and (6) low physical effort. Preliminary results are reported.

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