We recently published a blog by Imogen Andrews, Chair of the Disability Network, on her reflections on the learning experience of students with disabilities. We wanted to follow this up with a response from our team on how you support students with disabilities in your teaching.
Problem: Closed captioning is often inaccurate and doesn’t capture specialist terms effectively.
Solution: Offer check-in points during lectures for student to pose questions and queries. Open up the chat facility so students can seek clarification if the closed captioning does not pick up a term correctly. Have regular polls so you can see if your students are following or need something repeating.
Problem: Breakout groups and internet instability can make students feel overwhelmed and under pressure to engage. Student that suffer with anxiety and/or disability may need more time to process information.
Solution: The choice to use breakout groups should consider the needs of the students in the cohort and whether this would be effective. Consider keeping students in the same small groups each week so they can grow comfortable with each other. Students can be provided with guidance on how to work best within breakout groups, such as the provision of role descriptors and actions, such as a dedicated note-taker to ensure all discussion is captured.
Problem: Disability Support Summary (DSS) statements are often not taken into consideration when teaching, learning and assessment is being planned.
Solution: Reviewing DSS documents in advance of teaching planning can inform teaching and learning design – students with disabilities should be considered in the design to ensure it is inclusive.
Problem: Many students with disabilities require rest breaks during online assessments; current software does not allow for students to pause the exam.
Solution: Students that require regular screen breaks should be given alternative assessments or extended time if they do not have to option to break from the screen. These requirements should be highlighted to lecturers before the assessment period begins to ensure that lecturers can put in place appropriate changes.