Points to remember

Ask the student

While we encourage students to discuss their needs with their instructors, this is not always done. If you have questions about whether or not a student needs an accommodation, the first person to ask is the student.

Be aware of your language

Using terms such as "student with disabilities" rather than "disabled students" puts the emphasis on the person rather than their disability.


Don't be afraid to approach a person with a disability. Don't worry about using words like "walk" with a person using a wheelchair. As with anyone else, just treat them as you would like to be treated, with respect.

Speak directly to the student

Don't consider a companion to be a conversation go-between. Even if the student has an interpreter present, speak directly to the student, not to the interpreter.

Give your full attention

Be considerate of the extra time it might take for a person with a disability to get things said or done. Don't talk for the person who has difficulty speaking, but give help when needed. Keep your manner encouraging rather than correcting.

Speak slowly and distinctly

When talking to a person who is hard of hearing or has other difficulty understanding, speak slowly without exaggerating your lip movement. Stand in front of the person and use gestures to aid communication. Many students who are deaf or hard of hearing rely on being able to read your lips. When full understanding is doubtful, write notes.

Appreciate abilities

Students with disabilities, like those without disabilities, do some things well and others not as well. By focusing on what they can do, instead of what they can't, you will help build confidence.

Use common sense

Although some students with disabilities may require significant adaptation and modification in the classroom, more often common sense approaches can be applied to ensure that students have access to course content.

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