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One of the common concerns instructors have about accommodations is whether they will change the nature of the course they are teaching.

However, accommodations are designed to give all students equal access to learning in the classroom. When planning your course, consider the following questions from Scott, :. Answering these questions can help you define essential requirements for you and your students.

For instance, participation in lab settings is critical for many biology classes; however, is traditional class lecture the only means of delivering instruction in a humanities or social science course? Additionally, is an in-class written essay exam the only means of evaluating a student who has limited use of her hands?

Could an in-person or taped oral exam accomplish the same goal? When teaching a student with any disability, it is important to remember that many of the principles for inclusive design could be considered beneficial to any student. Instead of adapting or retrofitting a course to a specific audience, Universal Design emphasizes environments that are accessible to everyone regardless of ability.

Teaching Students with Disabilities | Center for Teaching | Vanderbilt University

By focusing on these design principles when crafting a syllabus, you may find that most of your course easily accommodates all students. For instance, a syllabus with clear course objectives, assignment details, and deadlines helps students plan their schedules accordingly.

Similarly, some instructional material may be difficult for students with certain disabilities. For instance, when showing a video in class you need to consider your audience. Students with visual disabilities may have difficulty seeing non-verbalized actions; while those with disorders like photosensitive epilepsy may experience seizures with flashing lights or images; and those students with hearing loss may not be able to hear the accompanying audio.

Additionally, it allows other students the opportunity to engage with the material in multiple ways as needed. For more information on Universal Design or making your class more inclusive at Vanderbilt, the Center for Teaching offers workshops and one-on-one consultations.

Additionally, the EAD office can help students and instructors address any questions or concerns they may have Bourke, A. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 33 1 , Burgstahler, S.

Universal design in higher education: From principles to practice. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard Education Press.


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Hodge, B. Accommodations—or just good teaching? Westport, Conn: Praeger. May, A. Stereotypes of individuals with learning disabilities: views of college students with and without learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43 6 , National Center for Learning Disabilities. Developmental Disabilities Bulletin, 38 , Scott, S.

Innovative Higher Education, 22 2 , Universal Design for Instruction. Remedial and Special Education, 24 6 , Silver, P. United States. Students with disabilities preparing for postsecondary education: Know your rights and responsibilities. Washington, D. Walters, S. Technical Communication Quarterly , 19 4 , Wolf, L. Students with Asperger syndrome: A guide for college personnel.

Modifications vs Accommodations: Difference and Examples

Teaching Students with Disabilities There is a newer version of this teaching guide. For those students with disabilities, the classroom setting may present certain challenges that need accommodation and consideration. Terminology Types of Disabilities Access to Resources Confidentiality and Disclosure Inclusive Design Learn More References Terminology In order to create an inclusive classroom where all students are respected, it is important to use language that prioritizes the student over his or her disability.

Teaching Students with Disabilities

Access to Resources When students enter the university setting, they are responsible for requesting accommodations through the appropriate office. Strategies A statement in your syllabus inviting students with disabilities to meet with you privately is a good step in starting a conversation with those students who need accommodations and feel comfortable approaching you about their needs.

The strategies have proven practical and successful by teaching practitioners who responded to a survey of members of the National Association for Developmental Education. Scott Lissner.

The third chapter, "Don't Overlook the Obvious" Maxine Elmont , discusses integrating reasonable accommodations as a part of good teaching. The following eight chapters present 32 anecdotal subchapters by survey respondents which describe successful strategies. These subchapters are grouped into the following types of problems: 1 attention, concentration, or memory difficulties; 2 chronic health problems; 3 hearing impairments or deafness; 4 integrative processing difficulties; 5 mobility impairments or motor control difficulties; 6 social behavior disorders or difficulties with consistent performance; 7 speech and language difficulties; and 8 visual impairments or blindness.