General Considerations

Guide To Teaching Students With Disabilities

Teaching is the primary responsibility of all faculty at SUNY Oswego. Effective teaching and meaningful faculty-student relationships are central to our students' success.

Considerations for students with disabilities are grounded in effective practices for all learners. These include attention to:

1. Learning context / classroom climate. Characteristics of classes that promote engagement and learning include those which:

· Are safe and respectful,
· Are engaging-- those that invite interaction and response,
· Offer respect for multiple perspectives,
· And reflect positive faculty-student relationships

2. Clearly articulating essential components of program/ course outcomes & requirements.  For example:

I.  What is the purpose of the program or course?
II. What are the outcome variables that are absolutely required of all participants?

A. Course

· What academic skills must be demonstrated?
· What percentage of subject area knowledge must be mastered?
· What specific knowledge, principles, or concepts must be mastered?

B. Program

· What skills or competencies will be needed in the field after graduation?
· What are the requirements for licensing or professional accreditation?

III. What methods of instruction are non-negotiable, and why?
IV. What methods of assessing outcome variables are absolutely necessary, and why?
V. What are acceptable levels of performance on these measures?

Program requirements outside of these parameters may be considered for accommodation on a case-by-case basis.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

UDL refers to principles and practices for creating instructional environments, methods and materials that honor diverse learning characteristics.Article: Universal Design for Learning

"Universal Design for Learning," (UDL) offers proactive considerations for planning and instruction that are grounded in effective teaching practices, the latest brain research and flexible digital formats to accommodate the widest possible range of learner characteristics.

Many professors already utilize some practices that increase accessibility and reflect UDL principles (e.g., "Powerpoint" presentations and notes, digital readings through e-reserve, multiple methods, including small groups distance and hybrid courses with web-based digital content other digital resources, faculty web pages with course resources). For more ideas on utilizing UDL principles to design your course and instruction, see Equal Access: Universal Design of Instruction - a checklist to maximize the learning of all students.

Employing Universal Design principles in instruction does not eliminate the need for specific accommodations for all qualified students who have disabilities. There will always be the need for some specific accommodations, such as sign language interpreters for students who are deaf. However, applying universal design concepts in course planning will assure full access to the content for most students and minimize needs for specialized accommodations for students who have disabilities.

Examples of how college faculty can apply principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL): 

· Designing Web resources in accessible format as they are developed means that no re-development is necessary if a student with vision impairment enrolls in the class.
· Allowing all students access to your class notes and assignments on an accessible Web site can eliminate the need for providing materials in alternative formats.