Teaching Science and Math to Students with Disabilities

As you prepare to teach preservice and inservice teachers about access to science and math instruction for students with disabilities, consider this presentation example.


After this presentation, educators and administrators will be able to


Approximately 60 minutes.


Department chair, educators, staff, teaching assistant, student, or other department member. Little experience working with students with disabilities is required to deliver this short presentation.


Equipment and Tools

Presentation Outline

  1. Distribute handouts.
  2. Introductions.
  3. Begin presentation.
  4. Introduce and play videos as noted in the script.
  5. Hold a discussion on possible accommodations on your campus.
  6. Discuss department or campus issues.
  7. Discuss case study (optional).
  8. Note campus resources.
  9. Distribute and collect completed evaluation instruments.


For further preparation resources for this presentation, consult

Sample Script

[Distribute handouts, Working Together: Science Teachers and Students with Disabilities and Equal Access: Science and Students with Sensory Impairments.]

Today we will be discussing how to provide full access to science and math academic activities to students with disabilities.

The objectives for today's session include to increase your understanding of challenges that students with disabilities face in science and mathematics classes, accommodation strategies and processes, and resources.

As scientific fields make increasing use of technology, new opportunities emerge for people with a variety of abilities and disabilities. When students with disabilities and science and math teachers form learning partnerships, the possibilities for academic and career success multiply.

Some disabilities are visible; some are invisible. Since each person's situation is unique, the best solutions for maximizing participation come about when the student and teacher work together to develop creative alternatives to challenges faced by students with disabilities. Such challenges may occur when gaining and demonstrating knowledge. In most cases, it takes just a little creativity, patience, and common sense to make it possible for everyone to participate and learn.


We will view a video in which college-bound high school students with disabilities share their access challenges and accommodation needs in science courses.

The students in this presentation shared their experiences. Let's discuss some of their solutions. This information is summarized in your handout entitled Working Together: Science Teachers and Students with Disabilities. Imagine having these students enrolled in a science course at our school. Their challenges can be broken down into two areas: gaining knowledge and demonstrating knowledge.

[Discuss the access challenges and solutions listed below and in the handout. Encourage comments, suggestions, and experiences from the participants.]

Gaining Knowledge

Many students with disabilities face challenges in gaining knowledge. Examples of specific challenges and accommodations follow:

Demonstrating Knowledge

Some students with disabilities cannot demonstrate mastery of a subject by writing, speaking, or working through a problem in a classroom or lab. Many of the accommodations used for gaining knowledge can also help the student demonstrate mastery of a subject.

Examples of other accommodations follow:

Science and Students with Sensory Impairments

Science activities often erect barriers for students with hearing and visual impairments. In the next video we will hear about access barriers and solutions for students with sensory impairments. This information is summarized in your handout Equal Access: Science and Students with Sensory Impairments.

Do you have any examples of how you can make your science activities more accessible to students with visual or hearing impairments?

[Optional: Show the video and distribute the handout The Winning Equation: Access + Attitude = Success in Math and Science.]

Case Study

[Consider having participants discuss a case presented in one of the Student Abilities Profiles earlier in this section of the notebook or the AccessSTEM Knowledge Base at http://www.uw.edu/doit/Stem/kb.html.]


Accommodations for students with disabilities can be complex and expensive. However, most accommodations are inexpensive and simply require creative problem solving on the part of students, instructors, and support services.

[Distribute and collect completed evaluation instruments.]


For comprehensive information on accommodations, a wide range of case studies, frequently asked questions, and general resources, visit the AccessSTEM website at http://www.uw.edu/doit/Stem/. This resource was developed at the University of Washington as part of a nationwide project to provide resources to math and science educators. Other online resources include AccessDL at http://www.uw.edu/doit/Resources/accessdl.html, the Center for Universal Design in Education at http://www.uw.edu/doit/CUDE/ and the Faculty Room at http://www.uw.edu/doit/Faculty/. [Arrange to provide links from your campus' department website before the presentation.] Consider linking to these websites from your department's website.

Thank you for your time today and for your interest in finding ways to ensure that all of the students in our math and science classes have equal opportunities to learn, explore interests, and express ideas.