Inclusive Teaching

What are some specific disabilities and corresponding teaching strategies?

Cognitive impairments (may include attentional disorders, learning disabilities, auditory processing and/or traumatic brain injuries
Appears unfocused or easily confused, lack of confidence, difficulty with remembering details, needs more time to complete tasks, struggles to manage time and stay organized.Set distinct objectives and provide a clear structure, continually review and break up tasks into small parts, make eye contact, provide multiple examples, take small breaks, if necessary, to regain focus.
Struggles with using and understanding language, processing information, trouble with writing and reading skills, difficulty following directions, poor memory skills.Provide instruction in a variety of ways such as visual graphic organizers or concept maps, continually summarize information and ask questions to check for understanding and recall, utilize active strategies such as underlining, highlighting and comprehension techniques.
Difficulty processing and retaining verbal information, difficulty taking notes and remembering spoken directions, easily distracted by noises or extraneous stimuli.Simplify spoken language, utilize visual aids and have the student write information, directions and notes.. Provide a distraction reduced environment away from others, if available, when having one on one discussions.
Sensory impairments (hearing impairments, visual impairments)
May rely on American Sign Language, Communication Access Realtime Translation, lip reading and/or a sign language interpreter to communicate.Speak clearly and with a natural voice. Speak directly and maintain eye contact with the student (not the interpreter). Be conscious of the time it takes to translate and process information. Use visual aids to reinforce spoken information. Discuss with the student what communication method (i.e., lip reading, interpreter) is needed to provide effective communication during the interaction.
May be blind or have low vision and require materials in alternate format (audio, Braille, enlarged) or use of assistive technology (CCTV, magnifiers).Discuss with the student the need for assistive technology, or alternate format that may impact the location of your sessions. Be clear in verbal descriptions and use very specific and direct language. If student has a service animal (dog or miniature horse) do not pet the animal. Be mindful of sufficient space for animal during the interaction.
Chronic health/physical (may include cystic fibrosis, diabetes, cerebral palsy, seizure disorder, etc.)
May have mobility impairments, be a wheelchair user, have fine motor challenges or medical conditions which may limit strength and alertness. Students may display fatigue, shortened attention span, loss of concentration, etc.Be prepared to rearrange a location, space and table to ensure access. Set distinct objectives and provide a clear structure, continually and break up tasks into small parts, make eye contact, provide multiple examples, take small breaks, if necessary, to regain focus.
Autism spectrum
Difficulty communicating with spoken language, often repetitive, difficulty with social interactions, preoccupations or intense focusing, difficulty with spontaneity or changing routines.Provide structure and be very clear, direct and repetitive in your explanations. Allow time for off-topic discussions, but explicitly express expectations and redirect focus. Address disruptive behavior and guide appropriate social behaviors.

 Learn more about executive functions and their role in the classroom.