Feature Articles

Best Practices for Accessible Education


A team of three educators work together to develop an accessible curriculum.

For many around the country, the school year has come to a close, and preparations for next year have already begun! AccessATE has published a number of articles and tip sheets about making education accessible for a wide variety of people and disabilities, but here we will take a higher-level perspective and review some best practices for making education accessible for students with disabilities. You might use this as a means of brushing up on the subject or a jumping-off point for ideas on how to expand or improve your existing accessibility efforts, so you can go into the next school year with confidence in your curriculum’s ability to reach everyone effectively.

Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning, or UDL, is a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people. This is achieved by ensuring that all educational materials, activities, and assessments accommodate diverse learning needs, which involves providing multiple means of representation, action and expression, and engagement. UDL allows students to access information and demonstrate their knowledge in various ways. For more details, we recommend our partner CAST’s page about...

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Recommended Listening: Five More Disability Podcasts


A woman in a wheelchair and a man sit together at a table and record a podcast together.

Per our previous post on disability podcasts, there are a wide variety of podcasts about life with disabilities, by people with disabilities. An important step in understanding how to mentor, employ, or otherwise assist a person with a disability is to understand their perspective and their needs. The podcasts below offer just that – accounts from people with disabilities that describe their experiences with work, education, social situations, and other aspects of their daily lives.

Disability Matters with Joyce Bender

Hosted by disability rights advocate Joyce Bender, Disability Matters covers a wide range of disability-related topics, including employment, technology, and advocacy. Bender interviews guests with disabilities and experts in the field to provide insights into disability issues and solutions. The podcast seeks to increase awareness and promote a more inclusive and accessible world for people with disabilities, recently covering topics such as disability employment policy, accessible transportation, and disability in the arts. In addition to being available on Bender’s website, Disability Matters is also available Apple Podcasts, VoiceAmerica, Spotify, Audible,...

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Job-Seeking Resources for Graduating Students with Disabilities


JAN logo

College graduation always feels like it sneaks up faster than we all expect, and for many colleges and universities throughout the U.S., it’s just a few months away! Graduating and transitioning from school to the workplace can be an intimidating experience for students with disabilities, and the first step in that transition – job-seeking – can feel especially daunting. Here, we’ll review some of the job-seeking resources available through the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), which you can share with your graduating student(s) with disabilities if they feel like they may need some additional help in kicking off the process of starting their careers.

Beginning to look for a job can get overwhelming – there are so many different companies, job listings, locations, and minute details to sort through. To ease some of this stress, JAN suggests starting with their simple list of Do’s and Don’ts of Looking for a Job. Some of the items in the list may seem obvious when you look at them, but they’re the sorts of tips that can get lost under the mountain of listings and applications we often find ourselves sorting through while job-hunting. JAN also has much more detailed guidance in the...

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Recommended Reading: Blogs About Being Blind/Low Vision


A woman with sunglasses and a cane smiles and waves as she walks.

AccessATE and DeafTEC have published a few tip sheets and blog posts on accommodating blind and low vision employees, which have largely been broad overviews of topics like safety, communication, equipment, etc. However, there is much information to consider and many stories to learn from if one wants to fully understand how to make blind/low vision people feel truly welcome in classrooms, labs, workplaces, and beyond. Naturally, these stories are best told by blind/low vision people themselves. Here, we recommend a few blogs about life as someone who is blind/low vision.


Life of a Blind Girl

Life of a Blind Girl is run by Holly, a woman from Yorkshire, UK, who lives with a condition called retinopathy of prematurity, or ROP, which causes her to only distinguish light from dark, leaving her with no useful vision. Holly’s blog includes posts about vision impairment and disability, employment, assistive technologies, and education, with lifestyle entries interspersed throughout. Readers can browse her blog posts by topic: Disability, Concerts, and Life. The Disability category in particular contains a great deal of professional and personal accounts and opinions on subjects...

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Recommended Resources: Assistive Technology Training for Educators


ATIA logo

Educators strive to provide an equitable and inclusive learning experience for all students, but some educator training doesn’t provide as much information on how to do so as one might like. Many teachers are familiar with the idea of accommodations like assistive technology (AT), but few receive detail about what options are out there, let alone how to utilize them, as part of their core education as a teacher. Below are three organizations that offer training on assistive technology for educators.

Assistive Technology Industry Association

The Assistive Technology Industry Association, or ATIA, is a leader in assistive technology education and research with the aim of ensuring that the best AT products and services are delivered to people with disabilities. ATIA as a robust Learning Center, where you can sign up for one of their many courses – some of which are free – or sign up for one of their webinars. ATIA’s educational materials feature a wide breadth of topics, from vision and hearing technologies, to physical access and participation, to web accessibility, and more. ATIA also hosts an annual conference with both in-person and virtual components, so educators have...

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Recommended Listening: Disability Podcasts


A woman in a chair and a man in a wheelchair sit together at a table, recording a podcast.

Podcasts are ever-growing in popularity, diversity, and volume of options. It’s no surprise that there are an increasing number of podcasts about disability, with topics ranging from disability culture and community, to history, to accessible design, and more. All the podcasts featured in this article are hosted and developed by people with disabilities; plus, in true disability-friendly fashion, they all provide transcripts for people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

Included: The Disability Equity Podcast

From the Johns Hopkins Disability Health Research Center, Included: The Disability Equity Podcast seeks to challenge the stereotypes surrounding disability, fight ableism, and share news. The podcast is hosted by Dr. Bonnielin Swenor and Dr. Nicholas Reed, and features diverse guests sharing personal stories, research data, and expertise on a wide range of disability topics. Episodes are available on their website, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts.

Barrier Free Futures

Barrier Free Futures is hosted by KSFR Santa Fe Public Radio presenter Bob Kafka, and has been putting out an episode nearly every week since February 2015. Each episode is a quick and digestible 30 minutes, and...

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Recommended Resources: Training and Mentoring for Youth with Disabilities


Partners for Youth with Disabilities

Transitioning from school to college or the workforce is often a challenging time in one’s life, and can be especially difficult for youth with disabilities. Developing a sense of community, applying for jobs and acquiring the training they need, and getting used to living independently can all be daunting steps to take on. Fortunately, they need not navigate this stage alone – below are just a few examples of organizations that help prepare youth with disabilities by providing training and mentorship.

Partners for Youth with Disabilities

Partners for Youth with Disabilities, or PYD, runs programs that provide mentoring and job readiness training for children and adolescents with disabilities, in addition to inclusivity and advocacy training for youth workers and organizations. On their website, one can access their programs, which include mentoring, career readiness, and leadership development; their training and consulting services, which are available both live and online; and their career readiness curriculum. PYD also has an advocacy initiative called the National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC), which offers fellowship and scholarship programs, as well as a...

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Recommended Resources: Disability and Social Security


Social Security Administration's Disability section of their blog

Here in the U.S., many of us receive benefits like medical insurance from our jobs. However, these can sometimes be insufficient or have gaps when it comes to disabilities. Social Security’s disability benefits can provide or supplement for students and/or employees with disabilities.

SSA Disability Blog

The disability section of the Social Security Administration (SSA) blog publishes information pertaining to Social Security benefits and policies regarding disabilities. Article topics range from benefits for specific disabilities, diseases, and conditions, to common questions, to program updates and changes. The blog also includes subjects about disabilities more broadly, including information and resources on rights, accommodations, financial literacy, and additional programs outside of Social Security that can help people with disabilities. Readers can subscribe to the SSA newsletter; connect with the SSA via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and LinkedIn; access the SSA’s online services; and easily navigate to other SSA resources beyond disability.


Social Security Disability News

Social Security Disability News is run by the West Coast Disability Legal Center....

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Recommended Reading: Disability History


A seated woman reads a book and drinks coffee

As many of our posts have suggested, the history of disability is long, rich, and nowhere near as well known as it ought to be. Below are some websites and podcasts that illuminate the history of the people, laws and policies, medical and technological developments, and social movements that have shaped the world of disability that we have today.

Disability History Museum

The Disability History Museum (DHM) is a virtual project, seeking to help deepen people’s understanding of how shifting cultural values, notions of identity, laws, and policies have shaped the experience of people with disabilities, and how those experiences are vital to everyone’s lives. With a board and advisors made up largely of disability historians and activists, the DHM features a vast array of resources. Their library is made up of documents and visuals associated with the history of people with disabilities, which can be easily searched through by collection, format, source, keywords, and dates, or browsed by topic. The museum also provides educational lessons, each with their own objectives, materials, and study guide, as well as teaching tools. The DHM website also has a “feature” tab, which showcases...

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Autism and Workplace Anxiety


Anxiety often cooccurs with autism, which can affect an autistic person's ability to focus and do their job

In our latest tip sheet from DeafTEC and AccessATE, we discussed accommodations and safety for autistic employees. The tip sheet briefly covers stress management. Here, we will dive deeper into the relationship between autism and anxiety, how autistic employees might handle stress at work, and how you as an employer can help.

Tip Sheet: Accommodations and Safety for Autistic Employees

Anxiety, as many of us know, is itself a reaction to stress and something many of us experience from time to time. Anxiety disorders, which last much longer than temporary worries and fears, are particularly common among people on the autism spectrum – in fact, they are the most common cooccurring disorder. Just as in allistic people, an autistic person’s anxiety can be especially triggered in the workplace. Generally speaking, there are four key areas that may especially relate to anxiety in autistic people.

The first is difficulty recognizing emotions in oneself and in others; this makes it hard to understand and process feelings of being scared or safe, which itself can be scary. It can also result in social anxiety due to difficulty with “reading” others, thus making social interaction feel...

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