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A teacher writes on an overhead projector

A classroom note taker is the service most often provided for students with hearing impairments.

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Large Lectures FAQ

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Q. VISUAL AIDS: Should I use visual aids to enhance my presentation even if I have students with serious impairments in my class?

A. Use of visual aides such as overhead projectors, multimedia projectors or dry erase boards/chalkboards can help highlight key information for all students. Overheads in large print are necessary for individuals who have low vision. For blind students, it is critical that you read all information presented visually. For a student with a hearing impairment, it is important to avoid talking while facing a board with your back turned to the students. Looking down while writing on the overhead also obscures a speaker's face posing difficulties for lip readers. Providing handouts and writing essential information, such as a discussion outline or any class notices, on an overhead projector or blackboard prior to the session will provide a good visual reference to essential information.

Q. NOTETAKING: How does a student who is blind take notes during lectures?

A. Many students use either an electronic Braille Notetaker or a notebook computer equipped with a screen reading program and speech synthesizer (which is turned off while they are taking notes) or Braille display. Others may record the lecture on tape or request someone else to take notes for them, which will be read to them or typed into a computer later. When instructors provide lecture notes on their Web site, no special arrangements are needed for a blind student.

Q. COPYRIGHTS: How do I safeguard tape-recorded lecture content from copyright infringement?

A. Contact the disability student services office. They can provide a copyright release form to safeguard materials. You can also request that all taped materials are erased at the end of each quarter or semester.

Q. INTERPRETERS: Do I need to change my rate or style of speaking when a student uses a sign language interpreter?

A. Perhaps, slightly. Speak with your normal tone of voice and rate of speaking. It is helpful to add more pauses in long paragraphs of oration. If you tend to talk quickly, it is helpful if you slow down and pause between important points. Decrease your rate of speaking if you are presenting new terminology or presenting a lot of technical information.

Q. READABILITY OF VISUAL AIDS: Is there a type of visual aide for students with visual impairments that is better or easier to see in a large lecture room (e.g., slides, overheads, writing on the board)?

A. How easy a visual aide is to read depends on each individual. Talk with the student in your course to find out the best way for her to see visual information. There are, however, ways to make the visual medium you select more readable.

  • For slides and overheads, use a Roman type standard serif or sans serif font, or a font that has wide spacing between letters (i.e., non-condensed).

  • Provide adequate spacing between text.

  • Use high contrast colors. Light or white letters printed on a dark background are more readable than dark letters on a white background. However, dark letters on a white background is a more familiar format.

  • Keep the ideas of readability and contrast in mind when you are writing on the board.

  • Avoid cluttered backgrounds and "busy" overheads or slides that distract from the text or key visual content.

  • When displaying graphs or other content with smaller print and important detail, also provide enlarged handouts.

For answers to more questions, search the Knowledge Base.