Lectures and Students with Disabilities

Generic advice on lectures and students with disabilities

 Lectures and Students with Disabilities

Lectures are a major part of teaching on most courses. Therefore, it is essential that disabled students are able to participate fully in them.

Disabled students may encounter problems in lectures arising from the environment in which the lecture takes place, the way in which a lecture is delivered and the form of materials used within it. Careful planning and preparation can help avoid these problems and allow enhancements to be made which improve access for disabled students. Much important information can be gained from students, themselves, as they are experts on their disabilities.

Approaches to Inclusion

Ideally, lectures should be accessible to all students. Providing copies of lecture notes, handouts and copies of presentations in advance gives students the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the structure and content of the session. This may help many disabled students take useful notes. It also alerts students to the use of any new vocabulary so that they can gain more from the lecture itself. This can be especially important for lip readers or students who make use of a sign language interpreter. Distributing notes via email, disk or web can be cost effective and allows blind and visually impaired students to use screen readers or magnification software to read them. Allowing students to record lectures may be useful to some disabled students who experience difficulty taking notes.

Consider the features of the lecture room you are using. There should be wheelchair access and space for wheelchairs to be accommodated so that any wheelchair users are an integral part of the audience rather than being placed separately.

Delivery of lectures should address the needs of disabled students: face the class when speaking, use clear diction and avoid standing silhouetted by the light. Make full use of the resources available. A microphone can be used so that the lecturer can be more clearly understood.  Some lecture rooms

have an induction loop which feeds directly into the hearing aids of disabled students so that they can hear only the lecturer, with the elimination of background noise.

When using any visual material, consideration needs to be given to how easily these can be seen from any part of the lecture room. If using a video, it is useful to provide a transcript for sensory impaired students. With increased reliance on PowerPoint as a medium, it is important to consider the number of slides used, the amount of information on each one, the font size and the pace of delivery. Printed materials also need careful consideration as some fonts can be difficult to read, as can some colour combinations.

Specific Advice

Consider providing copies of your lecture notes and slides. This can be done in various formats including email, disk and on the web as well as hard copy. This will be of benefit to many disabled students including those with dyslexia, sensory impairments and physical impairments.

Face your audience when speaking. Do not stand with your back to the light – it is impossible to lip-read a silhouette.

Ensure lighting is adequate for all your students including those with visual and hearing impairments.

Consider providing a glossary of new vocabulary. Dyslexic, Deaf and hearing impaired students will find this useful.

Repeat questions from students. Everyone is then aware of what is being said.

Liaise with your room bookings service  to ensure that teaching rooms are accessible and accessible routes to them are practical for students to use in the time available.


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