It’s September first! A date forever fixed in my mind as the start of term at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In honor of the occasion, I have compiled for you a collection of possible ways to make your magic school more disability-friendly and overall just cooler. There is no need to run headlong at a platform barrier in King’s Cross to access these ideas.
(These were just the ideas floating around my brain; they are by no means all-encompassing for every situation or fully thought out. They are meant to be more jumping-off points than concrete requirements.)
Section I: Accommodating For Mobility in European Castles
It could be fun to have a magic school that rebuilds itself to everyone’s needs- stairs for one person, ramps for another, depending on their mobility or what they’re feeling that day. Maybe a solid brick wall for someone who’s not allowed in (or just wants the exercise). This opens up opportunities for all sorts of things, like magical moving walkways! No one’s experience of their alma mater would be exactly the same- I know no one’s is normally, but I mean structurally. Maybe it appears as the magic school you always wished for as a kid, or what you think one ought to be like.
Maybe, in the spirit of scheduling classes in rooms based on access, the classrooms physically move around the school based on who needs to get where. Maybe everyone takes a different route magically suited to their needs. It would make it impossible to give anyone else directions, but hey, castles are meant to be impenetrable!
What if students were instantly transported to their classrooms at a certain time, regardless of if they were ready for class? What if portals appeared in their presence a few minutes before class? Could they be summoned at will any time you needed to get to a specific place, or would they only appear at class times? Could you get locked out, or are you allowed to come in late?
Section II: Accessibility of Lecture Materials and Classroom Environment
Some ideas for improving the accessibility of classes include the availability of signing, by either magic or non-magic means, some kind of magical live captioning, and the addition of language translation spells to make the material available in multiple languages simultaneously.
A couple of additional ideas already exist within the Harry Potter universe, though they tended to be used for more mischievous purposes than providing access to education. Muffling spells would be incredibly helpful to those with a noise sensitivity, as lessons in magic schools tend to go out with a rather loud bang at least half the time. Dictation quills seem like such a useful invention that I’m surprised they aren’t used more often: a lecture could be transcribed or its main points copied down without the stress of having to keep up with the teacher, and the student could then focus on listening and asking questions.
Section III: Suggestions Regarding Extracurriculars
The short version of this is to have a variety of extracurriculars, both athletic and not. This makes your worldbuilding more well-rounded and believable in the details, as well as allowing more opportunities for a wider range of characters to get involved. It seems more realistic (if that word can be used in the context of a fantasy world) to have more than one sport and beyond that more than one extracurricular at all.
You can have a number of magical sports and thus the opportunity to explore the dynamics within and between groups of players. These sports don’t necessarily have to be based on ones in the real world, but there are a number of adaptive sports that you can pull from if you would like a less well-known inspiration. There are a multitude of ways to make your sport accessible, especially with magic involved, but try to avoid solutions that completely erase a disability, and instead go for ones that take it into account and work with it.
As for other extracurriculars, there are the sort of standard ones, like the school paper and clubs based around interests or areas of focus, but it is kind of nice to see those everywhere. They can be left as they are, or added to with magical components depending on your taste. Students from mostly non-magic families (if you have those) might enjoy the reminder of home. As with creating clubs at non-magic schools, the sky’s the limit!
In regard to casual games, I get that gobstones is meant to be like marbles, but I see no reason that it can’t be played at a table. Wizard’s chess is slightly better, but can’t be played without talking, involves knowing all of the rules to chess, and runs the risk of having someone be able to interfere with your game from across the room, which for some reason was never brought up. I guess this goes to show, basing your magical games on regular ones isn’t necessarily simpler than creating something new. When creating any game, (or possibly anything else) try to think of all of the complications added by making it magic, in addition to the non-magic ones. It’s a lot, but you’re the one creating the magic system- you can address them however you want, since you’re making the rules!