Breaking Barriers

Last night we saw The Tempest at the Citadel Theatre. This was not a typical Shakespearean experience, however. In addition to the rain through much of the performance and the inclusion of lines from other plays, the dialogue was both signed and spoken by a combination of deaf and hearing actors. The play was not signed at the side of the stage as you may have seen in other circumstances. No, the American Sign Language was very much a part of the play itself.

Watching these actors break through barriers with each other and with the audience got me thinking about the students in our classrooms. Some don’t have full access to our teaching because of a language barrier, a disability, or even the challenges presented by the printed word.

How can we try to understand the limitations they feel and obstacles they face? What can we do to support them on their learning journeys?

Sometimes the accommodations are significant. But often, the changes aren’t complicated and the adjustments, fairly minor. And yet, what a difference for our students. When we are intentional about providing supports for our students who may fall outside the norm, all students benefit. Universal design at its best.

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