Classroom Tips for Faculty

Some general areas of course modification may benefit students both with and without disabilities:

  1. Inform students about the availability of support services for students with disabilities by including a statement on syllabi similar to the following:
    1. Accessibility Statement: Any student who needs an academic accommodation due to the impact of a disabling condition (including ADHD, learning disabilities, psychological and/or medical conditions, or temporary injury) should contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) at 715-346-3365,, or to determine reasonable accommodations. The DRC supports students and faculty in the notification and implementation of those accommodations, in accordance with the University’s obligations under federal law and Board of Regents policy (see Students can seek accommodations in a course at any time but are advised to do so early in the semester to ensure sufficient time to establish.
  2. Provide the course syllabus and a clear statement of expectations early to assist students in planning modifications and completing assignments for the semester.
  3. Begin lecture/discussion with an overview of the topics to be covered.
  4. Use the chalkboard or overhead projector to highlight key course material.
  5. Emphasize important points, main ideas, and key concepts orally in lecture.
  6. Try to provide assignments in writing as well as orally.
  7. Provide an opportunity for participation, questions, and review sessions to aid in mastering material and preparing for exams.
  8. Provide time during office hours for individual discussion of assignments, questions about lectures, and readings.
  9. Try to talk toward the class while writing on the board.
  10. Make sure that students see your lips, expressions, and gestures. Try not to stand against a window where your features are shadowed.
  11. In answering questions or engaging in class discussions, repeat student comments as necessary.
  12. Make sure duplicated materials are visually clear.
  13. Use a variety of formats to convey course material, both visual and auditory. If possible, convey difficult material in several ways.
  14. If possible, structure several ways for students to demonstrate mastery of material. Some examples are oral reports, essays written both in and out of class, and interpretive exams that allow the use of books and notes.


Fatigue, medical problems, medication, hospitalization, and extreme weather may disrupt a student's class attendance. Disabilities particularly likely to influence class attendance include: paraplegia, quadriplegia, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, heart disorders, psychological disorders, AIDS, arthritis, chronic illness, and chemical dependency.


Although fatigue is not a disability, many disabilities cause frequent fatigue. It accompanies disabilities as varied as AIDS, arthritis, back injury, cardiac disease, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, polio, spinal cord injury, chronic illness, and visual impairments. Some students may have difficulty sitting for a long period of time, and will need to stand for a while or leave class to stretch or lie down.

Instructors and students should plan for accommodations caused by fatigue as early as possible. Students who have problems with fatigue may benefit from extended time to complete course reading and other assignments.

Test and Early Syllabus Availability

Provision of class syllabi and required readings prior to the beginning of the semester will be helpful to some students with disabilities.

Students with visual, learning, and other disabilities may require audio reading materials. It is the student's responsibility to arrange audio reading materials through the DRC. Since this is a time consuming process, extended preparation time is helpful.

Deaf or hard-of-hearing students may utilize an early syllabus to become familiar with terminology used in a course, and to develop sign language vocabularies for use by their interpreters. Provision of materials in advance of the semester will likely reduce the need for extension of time to complete course requirements at the end of the semester.

Building Accessibility

Students with mobility disabilities may be unable to access certain facilities. Should a classroom not be accessible, students with mobility impairments can be scheduled into sections of courses held in accessible buildings, or the class location can be moved to an accessible site.

Other architectural barriers may also exist. Faculty offices may be inaccessible to a student using a wheelchair either because of office size or furniture arrangement. Use of computer or laboratory equipment may also be difficult for some students. Adapted equipment may be needed. The DRC will work with the student and instructor to ensure access in the most integrated setting.

Oral Communication

Students who have disabilities including cerebral palsy, head injury, cancer, multiple sclerosis, polio, speech, and hearing impairments may have difficulty with oral communication in the classroom. They may have slow speech, impaired speech, or no speech.

Students who have slow or difficult-to-understand speech should be encouraged to speak up in class and be allowed to take their time. If testing requires oral responses, students with speech difficulties may need the opportunity for alternative testing.