What is Inclusive Higher Education?

The Taishoff Center defines inclusion as the incorporation of students with disabilities into general academic courses on campus, across disciplines and departments with non-disabled peers. Students supported by the Taishoff Center at Syracuse University are supported through the inclusive/individual support model where individualized services and accommodations are provided as students take college classes based on personal choices and preferences.

Best Practices

Best practices found at inclusive post-secondary educational institutions include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Inclusive services with flexible, broad educational and extracurricular options. Choices for taking classes are not limited and students with intellectual and other disabilities are involved in campus activities and organizations, including student orientations.
  • Faculty and academic advisors presume competence of students with intellectual disabilities and set high expectations.
  • Students with disabilities are viewed as contributing members of the university community and are recognized as such by all departments and organizations.
  • Students with intellectual and other types disabilities are able to navigate relationships with disabled and non-disabled peers and take pride in their identity.
  • As a result of interactions with students with intellectual and other disabilities, faculty change the way they view and enact the development and delivery of their course curriculum.
  • Students with intellectual disabilities participate in all classes and activities with flexible supports. Segregated classrooms do not exist.


Inclusive adaptations/modifications vary from university to university. Ideal, but not always typical, adaptations may include the following:

  • Student-centered, individualized instruction and course selection; student choice is a priority and person-centered planning methods are employed.
  • Faculty modify curriculum and use multiple modalities to deliver content.
  • Written materials are provided to students as necessary, in addition to visual and sensory supports, such as comfortable classroom lighting.
  • Syllabi and course information are easily and clearly laid out.
  • Adapted materials, such as large-print textbooks and books on tape are available for students.
  • Permission to take courses is no different than for nondisabled peers.
  • University is fully accessible; physical barriers have been removed, doorways are regulatory widths, ramps and elevators are present in all campus facilities.
  • Entrance requirements, course requirements, and grading methods are modified (e.g.,SAT/ACT scores are replaced by letters of recommendation).
  • Transportation is flexible and physically accessible

Additional Supports and Services

Though inclusive supports vary by university, examples of specific academic services may include:

  • Peer mentors
  • Peer tutoring from classmates
  • Extended time on tests
  • Extended deadlines for assignments
  • Note-takers

Collaboration with local school districts is often encouraged to provide:

  • Curriculum modifications
  • Special education teachers
  • Paraprofessionals
  • Teaching assistants
  • Transition support
  • Reviews of IEP objectives

Students may also be supported by local service agencies for individuals with disabilities and may receive:

  • Service coordination
  • Transportation
  • Independent living skill instruction
  • Recreational support
  • Employment services