Lecture

Some students with disabilities face challenges in large lectures. Because the types of difficulties vary, individual students are the best source of information about their specific needs.

There are general teaching strategies for lectures that benefit all students, including those with disabilities. These strategies include:

  • using outlines and other scaffolding tools
  • using large, bold fonts on overhead displays
  • providing verbal descriptions of all visual content
  • making course materials available in accessible electronic formats
  • repeating student questions before answering
  • minimizing distractions

Accommodations for Specific Disabilities

Learning Disabilities

Some students with learning disabilities may have difficulty processing, organizing, and remembering large amounts of verbal information. Taking effective notes may also be challenging, due to poor organizational or writing skills.

Typical accommodations for students with learning disabilities include:

  • note takers
  • laptop computers for note taking
  • recorded class sessions

Blindness

Students who are blind cannot see visual aids, class outlines, or demonstrations.

Typical accommodations for students who are blind include:

  • Braillers for note taking
  • recorded class sessions
  • course materials in accessible electronic formats, so that they can be converted to speech output and/or Braille
  • verbal descriptions of all visual content

Low Vision

Students with low vision may have difficulty seeing visual aids, handouts, and demonstrations.

Typical accommodations for students with low vision include:

  • note takers
  • recorded class sessions
  • preferential seating
  • large-print handouts and visual aids
  • large, bold fonts on overhead displays
  • verbal descriptions of all visual content

Hearing Impairments

Students with hearing impairments or deafness may have difficulty understanding verbal content. Students with residual hearing or a hearing aid may require amplification. Environmental conditions—e.g., background noise, poor lighting--may also impact a student's ability to hear or to read lips effectively.

Typical accommodations for students with hearing impairments include:

  • sign language interpreters
  • real-time captioning
  • captioned presentations
  • sound amplification systems
  • preferential seating for optimal listening or lip reading
  • written descriptions of verbal content (e.g., on visual display or handout)

Mobility Impairments

Physical access to the lecture may be challenging for students with mobility impairments. A student who has difficulty using her hands will have difficulty taking written notes.

Typical accommodations for students with mobility impairments include:

  • note takers
  • laptop computers for note taking
  • recorded class sessions
  • preferential, accessible seating

Health Impairments

Students with health conditions may have difficulty attending class regularly. They may fatigue easily or have difficulty taking notes. Medication side effects may impact their endurance, memory, and attention.

Typical accommodations for students with health impairments include:

  • note takers
  • laptop computers for note taking
  • recorded class sessions
  • flexible attendance requirements

Psychiatric Impairments

Students with psychiatric conditions may have difficulty attending class regularly. They may fatigue easily or have difficulty taking notes. Medication side effects may impact their endurance, memory, and attention.

Typical accommodations for students with psychiatric impairments include:

  • note takers
  • laptop computers for note taking
  • recorded class sessions
  • flexible attendance requirements

Speech Impairments

Students with speech impairments may have difficulty asking questions in a large lecture. Some students with speech impairments use augmentative communication systems, including computer-based devices that provide speech output.

Typical accommodations for students with speech impairments include:

  • opportunities to ask questions via email
  • adequate time to speak

Consult the AccessComputing Knowledge Base

The AccessComputing Knowledge Base contains Q&As, Case Studies, and Promising Practices.