Inclusion and Diversity
I'm sure you'll all agree it's been an interesting, and possibly frustrating, year so far. There's still a way to go with the situation we find ourselves, but it's got me thinking about best practice in my professional career.
In my professional life, I write and edit mainly examination materials for the ELT world, and in the two and a half years I've been freelance, I'm lucky enough to have been involved in a number of excellent projects.
However, recently, I've been considering the content of what I've been creating - is it diverse enough? Is it inclusive enough? Are publishers and examination boards doing enough to be inclusive and diverse enough?
As a member of the LGBTQ+ population, I have to say no. My sister is autistic, and I don't see a lot of inclusion in examination papers. My sister is also dyslexic, but I don't see how the materials I've been creating are being adapted for learners like her. (I'd also love to find out how I can make this blog and my website dyslexia friendly...) My mother is registered disabled, but yet I don't see representations of this in examination papers or materials. What about race? What about learners of English who don't see representations of themselves in the materials they are studying or exams they are taking?
As far as I recall, I've only included one example of diversity in my content creation, and this makes me slightly ashamed. In a listening task, I created a character who was telephoning a conference centre to ask about the conference and wheelchair access. But this is not enough and I want to do more.
My humanist beliefs are helping me to realise I can actually do something about the lack of equality in the materials I write.
As I settle into freelancing (yes, I believe it takes a long time), I'm starting to utilise the connections and memberships I've made. I very much enjoy being part of the ELT Freelancers' group and I'm very happy as a member of IATEFL, including the Materials and Writing special interest group. Recently, I joined the Inclusive Practices and Special Educational Needs SIG, and I look forward to learning more.
In addition to this, I've signed up to a course called 'Foundations to Inclusion', run by Beth Cox, and through this, I really hope to be able to learn more. It would be a dream to be able to create inclusive and diverse ELT examinations and I wonder if there are any ELT publishers who would be interested to help me realise this goal.