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How to Teach and Accommodate

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

Make your course "accessibility-friendly."  

Include a statement in your course syllabus welcoming students with accessibility issues.  This sends the message that Umass Dartmouth values individual differences, diversity, and supports an inclusive learning environment. It also normalizes the accommodation process and informs students of a valuable resource to enhance the educational experience and retention.

Please also include the below section notifying them about the Office of Student Accessibility Services:

UMass Dartmouth is committed to providing equal to all of our students and be compliant with the legal mandates expressed in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

If you have a documented disability or chronic health condition and require accommodations to obtain equal access in this course, please call the Office of Student Accessibility Services at 508.999.8711 to make an appointment. The Center is located on the first floor in Pine Dale Hall, 7136. Here you will meet with their staff to discuss your needs.  

You may also want to notify students that if they have emergency medical information that they wish to share with you, or need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, to please inform you.

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