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Guidelines for Teaching Students with Disabilities

  • General Strategies for Optimizing Learning

    Many teaching strategies that assist students with disabilities are also known to benefit students without disabilities. Instruction provided in an array of approaches will reach more students than instruction using one method. SDS offers the following suggestions to assist instructors in meeting the growing diversity of student needs in the classroom, particularly those with disabilities. SDS welcomes any additional strategies instructors have found helpful.

    The Syllabus & Textbook:

    Make class syllabus and list of required texts available by request to students before the start of the semester. This allows time for students to obtain materials in alternative formats and to begin reading assignments.

    If available and appropriate, select a textbook with an accompanying study guide for optional student use.

    Early in the Semester:

    Place a statement in your syllabus and make an announcement at the first meeting of the class such as: If you are a student with a disability or believe you might have a disability that requires accommodations, please contact Dr. Dorling Joseph in the Student Development Center, 2nd Floor, Office 2268.  This approach preserves students’ privacy and also indicates your willingness to provide accommodations as needed.

    Because many students with disabilities need additional time to process and complete assignments, convey expectations in the syllabus (e.g., grading, material to be covered, due dates).

    Announce reading assignments and list in the syllabus well in advance for the benefit of students using taped materials or other alternative formats. Recording an entire book takes an average of six weeks; DS can produce the materials in installments when informed of the sequence in which the materials will be used.

    Points to Remember:

    · When in doubt about how to assist, ask the student directly and check the Instructor Contact letter provided by Student Disability Services. If you still have questions, call the SDS office.

    · When students ask for extended deadlines, approved absences, or rescheduled examinations, please have the student discuss these requests with Dr. Joseph first.

    · Confidentiality of all student information is essential. At no time should the class be informed that a student has a disability, unless the student makes a specific request to do so.

    · The Student Code of Conduct regarding disruptive behavior applies to all students. Clearly state behavioral expectations for all students; discuss them openly in your classroom, on your syllabus, and with individual students as needed.

    · If you require assistance or guidance concerning a student with a disability, please contact the appropriate SDS Director.


    Accommodations make it possible for a student with a disability to learn the material presented and for an instructor to fairly evaluate the student’s understanding of the material without interference because of the disability.

    A student needs official authorization before receiving accommodations.  The student is responsible for providing the SDS office with current documentation from qualified professionals regarding the nature of the disability. After talking with the student and, if necessary, the instructor, the SDS office determines appropriate accommodations based on the nature and extent of the disability described in the documentation. The SDS office constructs an Instructor Letter specifying authorized accommodations. The student is responsible for delivering the letters to the instructors and discussing accommodations based on the contents of the letter. The process of requesting and receiving accommodations is interactive; all people involved—the student, the instructor and the SDS office—have a responsibility to make sure the process works.

    Examples of Reasonable Accommodations, Which Students with Disabilities may Require:

    · Use of interpreters, scribes, readers, and/or note takers

    · Taped classes and/or texts

    · Enlarged copies of notes, required readings, handouts and exam questions

    · Extended time on exams

    · Quiet, distraction-free environment for taking exams

    · Use of aids, such as calculators or desk references, during exams

    · Use of computers in class or access to computers for writing assignments and exams

    · Taped or oral versions of exams

    · Preferential seating in the classroom

    · An accessible website following the guidelines of Section 508

    Types of Disabilities