In a speech class, how can I accommodate a student with a communication disorder?

Date Updated

Communication disorders include the following:

  • difficulty in the expression of language
  • stuttering
  • paralysis of part or all of the vocal tract
  • the removal of the larynx or other structures due to cancer
  • speech impairments related to congenital hearing loss

A student with a communication disorder may be hesitant to participate in course activities that require speaking. However, the student may be able to complete a speech assignment with a variety of accommodations and some creativity on the part of the instructor and student. A student who cannot deliver a speech vocally might be able to use the following alternate methods:

  • use an electronic augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) system, which produces synthesized or digitized speech output, to deliver the speech
  • write a speech and have a printed copy read aloud by another student or have an electronic copy read aloud by a computer equipped with a speech output system

Demonstrating an understanding of essential course elements using alternate methods may be an option for assessing a student's understanding of the course material. For example, a student could review a speech and analyze it with respect to public speaking principles taught in class.

Be sure to consult with the student regarding the best approach to take for meeting course requirements. You can also contact your school's support services for students with disabilities for guidance.