Information Processing

Characteristics of Information Processing Impacting on Learning and Teaching

Students with certain disabilities and/or learning difficulties may experience problems with two-way communication. Some students may have developed individual forms of communication that may not be through conventional speaking and listening. For others, specific features of their disability or learning difficulty will make speaking and listening, whilst processing information, problematic.

Students may have a range of difficulties with either receptive or expressive language processing, affecting their higher level abilities to understand and communicate effectively.

Discussion is a very important mode of learning for all students. However, traditional conventions of discussion can exclude certain students.

When organising group work that includes members with a disability and/or learning difficulty, it is important to look closely at the conventions that are being used and to consider whether they are appropriate. Difficulties that might be experienced by certain students could include:

  • Visual impaired students who cannot see who is speaking. These students may also be unable to use facial expression and body language as an additional means of interpretation.
  • Deaf students who use British Sign Language (BSL) will only be able to follow a discussion by looking at their interpreter. This will inevitably slow down the speed with which they can receive inputs, and also mean that they cannot always focus on the facial expressions of the speaker. These students will also require extra time to formulate their own responses during discussions.
  • Students who lip-read will find it hard to follow discussion unless seating enables all participants to see each other, lighting and acoustics are good, and a formal discussion is effectively chaired.
  • Some students with autistic spectrum disorders may find it hard to communicate directly. Their disability makes aspects of social communication, for example eye contact, particularly difficult.
  • Some students with mental health difficulties and learning difficulties may find two-way communication hard for a variety of reasons: they may feel very inhibited in entering a discussion, they may find certain aspects of discussion, e.g. any contribution that they might perceive as being critical of them, very threatening, or they may become very enthusiastic about a particular subject and find it hard not to dominate the discussion and reluctant to allow it to move onto other areas.

Students with speech difficulties may find their difficulty increases when communicating in a larger group.

Teaching Strategies

These strategies are suggestions for inclusive teaching. This list should not be considered exhaustive and it is important to remember that all students are individuals and good practice for one student may not necessarily be good practice for another. You may also like to contact the Disability Specialist in your institution for further information. If you have any good practice that you would like to add to this list, please email your suggestions to

  • Use literal language and be very precise about meanings.
  • Use carefully worded, unambiguous questions to elicit and test learning.
  • Provide extra time after group sessions to check that the content has been understood.

Subjects potentially associated with Information Processing

General learning activities potentially affected by Information Processing


Resources related to the Information Processing