Proposed Framework for Inclusive Design

A framework for inclusive design should extend existing theories of online education. Several frameworks for online space design exist (Bradbard & Peters, 2010; Moran, 2001); this text aims to extend these with inclusive design. As other scholars remind us, technology should support pedagogy, not dictate it (Cook, 2005). However, we also know that the media used in a writing space inevitably shapes the content, experiences, and outcomes of writing courses and writing centers.  We can extend our models with the following inclusive design framework:

  1. Consider inclusion during each step of course development.
  2. Incorporate technology into the writing spaces with a pedagogical rationale and an inclusive rationale.
  3. Adopt constructivist pedagogies, in which students and instructors create a community of inquiry and discovery.
  4. Embrace the experiences of all students, instead of ignoring or downplaying differences.
  5. Guide students towards appreciating the rationale and purpose for each lesson and exercise.  
  6. Comply with local, state, and federal regulations.

The guiding principles for inclusive online writing spaces apply to all writing spaces. The framework suggested offers strategies for accommodating students with special needs without altering the educational goals of our writing spaces. The inclusive design framework privileges constructivist pedagogies because they stress communities of discovery (Garrison & Vaughan, 2008). The goal is to incorporate the experiences of students actively and affirmatively into the writing space. If we find it necessary to alter writing pedagogies to accommodate any student, including those students with disabilities, we should question the validity of those pedagogies. A pedagogy that resists the inclusive framework, thereby accepting barriers to students with special needs, might be flawed.

In a neurodiverse world, the way all learners can be supported by some of the very latest technologies can be both empowering and enabling. We must not allow the divisions between what is considered assistive and what may be fashionable to blur our vision as to how successful this applications can be in supporting study strategies. (Draffan, 2009, p. 220)