Lesson 12: Planning, Evaluation, and Staff Training

Serving Students with Disabilities
Distance Learning Course


The purpose of this lesson is to help you plan and evaluate policies, procedures, and staff training materials related to working with students with disabilities in your service area.

Question to reflect upon while reading this content

What polices, procedures, or staff training materials currently exist in your service area that address working with students with disabilities?


Throughout this distance learning course, we have been looking at physical and technological barriers that may exist for individuals attempting to access your services. By developing policies, procedures, staff training materials, and evaluation tools that include disability access issues, you can enhance the accessibility of your service area.

Planning and Evaluation 

Answering the following questions can help guide you in making your service area accessible:

  • Do you have policies and procedures that assure access to facilities, printed materials, computers, and electronic resources for people with disabilities and demand that accessibility be considered in the procurement process?
  • Do you have a designated staff member and/or committee who assures that services are accessible to students with disabilities and responds to requests for accommodations?
  • Are people with disabilities included in student service planning and evaluation processes?
  • Do you have a procedure to assure a quick response to requests for disability-related accommodations?
  • Are disability-related access issues addressed in your evaluation methods?


Answering the following questions can help you determine if your staff training materials are addressing issues related to working with students with disabilities:

  • Are all staff members familiar with assistive technology and alternate document formats available in the office?
  • Do staff members know how to respond to requests for disability-related accommodations, such as sign language interpreters?
  • Are all staff members aware of issues related to communicating with students who have disabilities?

Working with People with Disabilities

It is important to treat people with disabilities with the same respect and consideration with which you treat others. There are no strict rules when it comes to relating to people with disabilities. However, here are some helpful hints.

General Guidelines

  • Ask a person with a disability if they need help before providing assistance.
  • Talk directly to the person with a disability, not through the person's companion or interpreter.
  • Refer to a person's disability only if it is relevant to the conversation. If so, refer to the person first and then the disability. "A man who is blind" is better than "a blind man" because it emphasizes the person first. Avoid negative descriptions of a person's disability. For example, "a person who uses a wheelchair" is more appropriate than "a person confined to a wheelchair." A wheelchair is not confining--it's liberating!
  • Always ask permission before you interact with a person's guide dog or service dog.

Visual Impairments

  • Be descriptive for people with visual impairments. Say, "The computer is about three feet to your left," rather than "The computer is over there."
  • When guiding people with visual impairments, offer them your arm rather than grabbing or pushing them.

Learning Disabilities

  • If asked, read instructions to individuals who have specific learning disabilities.

Mobility Disabilities

  • Try sitting or positioning yourself at the approximate height of people in wheelchairs when you interact.

Speech Impairments

  • Listen carefully. Repeat what you think you understand for confirmation, and then ask the person with a speech impairment to repeat the portion of what was said that you didn't understand.

Deaf or Hard of Hearing

  • Face people with hearing impairments so they can see your lips. Speak clearly.
  • Consider the use of transparencies or slides rather than writing on a whiteboard or flipchart so that participants with hearing impairments can read your lips.

Psychological Disabilities

  • Provide information in clear, calm, respectful tones.
  • Allow opportunities for addressing specific questions.

Question for Discussion

Send an email message to the group that answers the following question:

What are specific ways you could include students with disabilities in the planning and/or evaluation activies of your office?
Your email SUBJECT line should read: Access 12: PLANNING, EVALUATION, AND STAFF TRAINING.

Further Information

You can read answers to frequently asked questions, explore case studies, and access additional resources at The Conference Room, https://www.washington.edu/doit/distance-learning-course-serving-students-disabilities.

(c) 2004 DO-IT. Permission is granted to copy material in this email for educational, noncommercial purposes provided the source is acknowledged. Contact DO-IT at 1-206-685-3648 or doit@u.washington.edu