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A tape recorder is a common accommodation.

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Large Lectures

Case Study | FAQ | Resources

Some students with disabilities face challenges in large lectures. Needs vary greatly among individuals. Students are the best source of information about their needs.

General teaching strategies beneficial for all students include:

  • Clear and well organized class outlines and visual aids.

  • Clear descriptions of visual aids.

  • The availability of course materials before each class session.

  • Availability of course materials electronically.

  • Opportunities to ask questions electronically via e-mail.

Considerations and typical accommodations by disability type are summarized below.

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

Typical accommodations in lectures for students with learning disabilities include:

  • Notetakers.

  • Audiotaped class sessions.

  • Use of a laptop computer in class for notetaking.

For more information about students with learning disabilities, consult the Learning Disabilities section of this website.

Blindness
Students who are blind cannot see visual aids, class outlines, nor demonstrations.

Typical accommodations in lectures for students who are blind include:

  • Audiotaped class sessions.

  • Student use of a Brailler for notetaking.

  • Outlines and course materials in electronic format so that they can be converted to speech output.

  • Clear verbal descriptions of visual aids, graphics, and writing on chalkboards or dry-erase boards.

For more information about students with blindness consult the Blindness section of this website.

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

Typical accommodations in lectures for students with low vision include:

  • Notetakers.

  • Audiotaped class sessions.

  • Preferential seating.

  • Large-print handouts and visual aids.

  • Clear verbal descriptions of visual aids, graphics, and writing on chalkboards or dry-erase boards.

For more information about students with low vision, consult the Low Vision section of this website.

Hearing Impairments
Students with hearing impairments or deafness are challenged by presentations and verbal information. Students with residual hearing or a hearing aid may require amplification. Other students may need to lip read or use a sign language interpreter. Certain environmental conditions may also impact a student's ability to hear or read lips effectively. For example, hearing aids may pick up extraneous background noise and interfere with the clarity of sound. Poor lighting may make it more difficult to lip read. Likewise, background lighting from a window can cast shadows on a speaker's face.

Typical accommodations in lectures for students with hearing impairments include:

  • Sign language interpreters.

  • Real-time captioning.

  • Captioned videotapes, films, etc.

  • Sound amplification systems.

  • Preferential seating for optimal listening or lip reading.

  • Providing essential course information in written format (e.g. on the board, e- mail, handout).

For more information about students with hearing impairments, consult the Hearing Impairments section of this website.

Mobility Impairments
Physical access to the lecture location may be challenging for a student with a mobility impairment. A student who has difficulty using her hands will have difficulty taking written notes.

Typical accommodations in lectures for students with mobility impairments include:

  • Preferential and accessible seating.

  • Notetakers.

  • Audiotaped class sessions.

  • Use of a laptop computer for notetaking.

For more information about students with mobility impairments, consult the Mobility Impairments section of this website.

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

Typical accommodations in lectures for students with health impairments include:

  • Notetakers.

  • Audiotaped class sessions.

  • Use of a laptop computer for notetaking.

  • Flexible attendance requirements.

For more information about students with health impairments, consult the Health Impairments section of this website.

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

Typical accommodations in lectures for students with psychiatric impairments include:

  • Notetakers.

  • Audiotaped class session.

  • Use of a laptop computer for notetaking.

  • Flexible attendance requirements.

For more information about students with psychiatric/mental health impairments consult the Psychiatric/Mental Health Impairments section of this website.

Other
Students with speech impairments may have difficulty asking questions in a large lecture. Some students with speech impairments use augmentative communication systems.

Typical accommodations in lectures that can be used for students with speech impairments include:

  • Opportunities to ask questions via e-mail.

  • Providing adequate time to allow the student to speak.

For more information about students with speech and other disabilities, consult the Other section of this website.

Check Your Understanding
Consider the following situation. You teach a large biology class and a student with low vision has enrolled in your course. You use many visual aids and slides in your lecture. How can you make sure the student benefits from these materials? Choose a response.

  1. Provide preferential seating.

  2. Use clear verbal descriptions of the visual aids used throughout your lecture.

  3. Provide enlarged photocopies of the slides for the student to review.

  4. Provide a tactile diagram of the slides.