Due to physical, sensory, cognitive or linguistic barriers, a curriculum that is effective for some children may not be effective for all. For a curriculum to be accessible to all, every aspect of the curriculum (the environment, activities, instructional methods, materials, etc.) must be inviting and conducive to active participation of all children, regardless of disability. Varying content, adapting materials and toys and modifying instructional strategies are all ways to make the curriculum accessible to children with disabilities.
Multiple means of representation: This refers to the instruction and learning opportunities being presented in a wide array of formats and at various levels of difficulty. In this way, it addresses all ability levels and learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc.). When multiple means of expression are provided, differentiation of instruction is embedded and naturally occurring and allows each child to participate most effectively. Examples include collection of books ranging from easy to more challenging, providing pull-apart toys (bimanual) of handing two objects to children who need encouragement for the use of two hands at the same time.
Multiple means of engagement: This refers to various opportunities presented to interest the children, pique their curiosity and motivate their desire to learn. Scaffolding, repetition and challenge ensure quality learning. Since children’s interests and abilities vary, the curriculum must be flexible and may change according to the changing child. Pre-contrived themes or strict lesson plans are not ideal due to the limitations placed on individual learning or interests of the children. It must appeal to children of all abilities, developmental levels and preferences.
Examples include a balance between open-ended materials and activities with more structured options in which the child can choose where they would like to play. Supports such as handles on a puzzle or a choice between playing with cars and playing with animals gives the child independence and will allow for more authentic, meaningful learning opportunities.
Multiple means of expression: This allows the children to show what they know through multiple means. Their responses, expression of personal thoughts and feelings, choice of activities, materials and learning topics are all ways this principal individualizes learning according to strengths, preferences and abilities. Children can communicate their wants or needs through a wide variety of verbal or non-verbal options, including: signs, gestures, pictures, objects, art or assistive technology.