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Indiana University Bloomington

Teaching Tips for Dealing with Students with Special Physical or Medical Needs

  • Remember that the student's disability is only a small part of his or her total identity as a person.
  • Always address the student directly, not through an interpreter or caretaker.
  • Ask the student privately what things you can do to facilitate learning.
  • Know what the student is able to do and plan alternatives ahead of time.
  • Ensure that the student can participate in both class discussions and group work.
  • Adapt to the student's needs without lowering your usual course standards.
  • Be aware of the emotional behavior and frequent absences of the students.
  • When covering a topic dealing with illness or disease, assume that this topic may affect some students personally.
  • Offer choices on exams and assignments to alleviate student anxiety.
  • Do not spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on the disability of the students.
  • Reward achievements with relevant praise and offer critiques when the student's work could be improved, just as you would for any other student to make the disabled student feel more included in the classroom.
  • Be aware that disabled students generally do not enjoy praise that is based on their disability rather than on their ability.
  • Encourage the students to notify you throughout the semester if there is anything else you could be doing to help.
  • Treat the students as individuals and as not representatives or spokespersons for the entire group.