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Students with Disabilities in Your Classroom

In this section of our website you will find information on how you can best accommodate students with disabilities that may be in your classroom.  As always, if you have any questions, please contact us! We are happy to provide more information.


General Suggestions for Teaching Students with Disabilities

 

Get more disability information by reading through the materials below. Since students are usually the experts on their own disabilities, ask them if you need more information about how they learn best. You can also contact Wendi Chaka or Nicole Sherman at the Center.

Make your course "disability-friendly." It is helpful to announce at the beginning of the semester, "Students who have Letters of Accommodations from the Center for Access and Success, please see me during my office hours." You should put a few paragraphs into your course syllabus welcoming students with disabilities and inviting them to visit you for a discussion of their disability-related academic needs. These paragraphs might read as follows:

If you have a documented disability and require accommodations to obtain equal access in this course, please meet with the instructor at the beginning of the semester and provide the appropriate paperwork from the Center for Access and Success. The necessary paperwork is obtained when you bring proper documentation to the Center for Access and Success., which is located on the first floor in Pine Dale Hall, 7136, phone: 508-999-8711.

If you need disability-related accommodations in this class, if you have emergency medical information you wish to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please inform me immediately. Please see me privately after class or at my office.

Facts on Students With Disabilities

Source: Wiley Periodicals, Inc., A Wiley Company. Disability Compliance for Higher Education. (2012). Vol 17(10).

If you are not educated on disabilities, you may feel uncomfortable when attempting to communicate with a student with a disability. To help all your students feel at ease and respected, it is important to be well-informed on various disabilities and how to effectively communicate with those individuals. Despite the fact that there are no concrete rules or requirements for communicating with individuals with disabilities, there are some tips that will be helpful when attempting to effectively communicate with individuals with disabilities.

 

General Communication Tips
  • Ask students if they would like help before providing them with any assistance
  • Talk to students directly, rather than through their interpreter, coach, or assistant
  • Avoid interacting with service animals unless you have been given permission first

 

Students with Visual Limitations

  • Use descriptive speech when possible
  • Offer your arm to help guide students instead of grabbing them
  • Avoid summarizing if reading to a student with visual limitations, this way they will get the full content just as the person reading it does

 

Students who are Hard-of-Hearing / Deaf

  • Face students when speaking to help them understand you
  • Speak clearly and at normal volume, raise your voice only if asked
  • Write on paper if deaf student doesn't have an interpreter or if you cannot sign
  • Raise a hand when speaking in a group setting so that the deaf student can identify who is speaking

 

Students with Learning Disabilities

  • Offer directions both verbally & in writing, be willing to read them out loud if asked

 

Students with Mobility Limitations

  • Sit or position yourself at the height of the person sitting in the wheelchair

 

Students with Speech Impairments

  • Listen carefully, then repeat what they said to avoid any miscommunication

 

Students with Psychiatric Disabilities

  • Speak in a clear, calm, and respectful tone when communicating
  • Allow time to answer questions, even if you think you  explained it enough

Resources for Educators

How to teach students with...

Learning Disabilities Blind and Low Vision
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Autism and Aspergers Mobility Restrictions
Psychological Disorders Chronic Illness or Pain

External Resources:

Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities: Resource Guide on Higher Education for People with Disabilities

Learning Disabilities Association of America: For Teachers

University of California Berkeley Disabled Students' Program: Teaching Students with Disabilities

*Much of the information the UC Berkeley site is replicated on this site for easier access.

This is a free, self-guided training module available online at the HEATH Resource Center from George Washington University.  For the whole module, please click here

Students with Disabilities in the College Classroom: What College Faculty Need to Know?

MODULE GOAL(S): To assist postsecondary administrators and faculty in understanding the characteristics of students with disabilities and strategies for communicating and building positive relationships. The module is to help faculty and staff understand and help the students determine and use, supports or accommodations to participate in the course.

OBJECTIVES:

  1. To define the term ‘disability.’
  2. To explain the legal mandates related to the student with a disability who may be enrolled in your courses.
  3. To review the process for determining if a student has a disability and requires accommodations in your class.
  4. To provide an overview of the most frequent accommodations required by a student with a disability.
  5. To obtain suggestions about what to do if you suspect that a student in your class has a disability.
  6. To determine where you can get more information about students with various disabilities who may be enrolled in your classes.

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