“Inclusion means different for different people” – A student’s perspective on inclusive education

Are you looking for student insights on inclusive education? After the recent Autism Research in Practice Conference, an ANU student told me that their favourite quote from the conference had been, “inclusion means different for different people/contexts/countries” by PhD Candidate Dawa Dukpa

The first presentation the student listened to at the conference was Matt Capp’s presentation on Personalised planning for students on the autism spectrum using Universal Design for Learning

Student: “I like the idea of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) whose aim is to plan and develop inclusive curriculum, instead of making adjustments to existing curriculum for students with different needs upon their requests. From my experience, the most accessible courses for me at ANU were already inclusive and accessible from the beginning (or even before the beginning of the semester!) and I did not have to ask for many adjustments, compared to my other courses. And many of my classmates also liked these courses thanks to their inclusive nature.”  

“Before COVID, I often met with my course convenors during O-Weeks or in Week 1 to discuss my Education Adjustment Plans (EAP) and participating in classes. I cannot forget one of my lecturer’s kindly saying ‘Please let me know anytime when you need my help or when you find something in my class hard for you. I believe something helpful for you is also helpful for everyone in my class, and I want to make my class accessible for everyone!’” 

The student also found Dawa Dukpa’s presentation on Exploring Bhutanese teachers’ knowledge and use of strategies for the inclusion of students on the autism spectrum very interesting. 

Student: “I also found Dawa Dukpa’s presentation very interesting. Dukpa conducted research as to how teachers in Bhutan understand and implement strategies to make their classes inclusive to their students on the autism spectrum. Dukpa has found that teachers in Bhutan have knowledge about these strategies, but not many of them implement these strategies in their classes. My extended family are in an Asian country too, and I suppose Dukpa’s findings are very relevant to teachers in many Asian countries and also teachers in Australia from Asian backgrounds who do not have much experience in learning and teaching for inclusive classrooms.”  

“I like Dawa’s saying ‘Successful inclusion largely depends on teachers’ adequate knowledge of and access to evidence-based strategies.’ In addition to teachers’ knowledge and access to resources, I believe that teachers’ willingness to support diverse students is also a critical factor to make classes inclusive.“ 

“As ANU has an Access &Inclusion (A&I) service, I assume that all ANU staff have access to resources. I have found that teachers with knowledge about the importance of reasonable adjustments, and how to make their classes accessible, are willing to support students with disabilities or needing adjustments due to other reasons.”  

“I also had a lecturer who was willing to support students as much as possible, but they were not confident in how to make their classes inclusive. I found that their course was really supportive, and some examples of the adjustments I mentioned in my tips post were actually from this course. But, to my surprise, my A&I adviser confided that that lecturer wasn’t confident in making their class inclusive at the beginning of that semester and asked my adviser for some advice. This experience shows that teachers can make their classes inclusive, even if they have no experience in learning in an inclusive environment, once they get knowledge and support/advice.” 

What you can do to create an accessible and inclusive classroom

Our student also provided some teaching tips for enhancing inclusion tactics that have worked for them. You can read their tips here: Accessible and inclusive teaching – Tips from a student.

For further information about creating an inclusive classroom: 

Understanding your neurodivergent students and their needs in the classroom 

Three tips for making content accessible to disabled students – Part 1 and Part 2 

Universal Design for Learning – ANU Online Coffee Course


D. Dukpa, S. Carrington & S. Mavropoulou (2021): Exploring Bhutanese teachers’ knowledge and use of strategies for the inclusion of students on the autism spectrum, International Journal of Inclusive EducationDOI: 10.1080/13603116.2021.1973124 

Matthew James Capp (2020) Teacher confidence to implement the principles, guidelines, and checkpoints of universal design for learning, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 24:7, 706-720, DOI: 10.1080/13603116.2018.1482014 (ANU direct article access 

November 2021

  • An ANU student with disabilities 
  • Dr Scott Rickard is autistic, an Educational Designer at the Centre for Learning and Teaching and the Chair of the ANU Disability Action Plan Education Provider of Choice Action Group.