A new online course at the University of New Brunswick focuses on educating teachers on accommodating students with different disabilities. 


Jody Gorham, the director of the UNB Student Accessibility Centre, says this should help instructors at all stages of their career. (CBC)

The three-hour course took two years to design by the university.

"The university has requirement by law, human rights legislation and legal precedence to provide academic accommodation for students," said Ken Craft, a student accessibility counsellor at UNBSJ.

"Often what is academic accommodation and what isn't academic accommodation is not well understood by many people at the campus," he said.

"This course gives people a good tutorial on the requirements for duty to accommodate."

The online course is based on real-life scenarios with students. For instance, students who have trouble writing a paper could do an audio recording or multi-media presentation instead. 

'This course gives people a good tutorial on the requirements for duty to accommodate.' - Ken Craft, student accessibility centre

"I think it's going to be a great access to instructors of all stages of their career," said Jody Gorham, director of student accessibility services.

"Early instructors individuals who are starting off at the teaching profession, it'll be really helpful to them because they may not have had any experience with the notion of duty to accommodate," she said.

"For more experienced instructors it helps them think about some more unique and challenging circumstances that can arise when it comes to accommodating students with diverse needs in their classroom," she added.

Outline of the course

The course was designed by Bev Bramble, an instructional designer at UNB. 

It is scenario-based, where instructors can read a given scenario and answer questions based on it. It is also content-driven where participants can watch videos and read documents on the matter.

The idea for the course was a result of the document posted by the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission in 2014 that provided guidelines for post-secondary institutions on their duties to accommodate. 

"Basically it was an opportunity to shed more light on the issue with faculty and instructors," Gorham said.

"We tried to go around to various faculty and council meetings and get a few minutes on the agenda but we found it hard because of their busy schedules so it wasn't doing the job of clear and in-depth presentation."

She said that's when they decided to do a separate course for faculty instead.