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Students with disabilities 

Brief description 

Students with physical disabilities, mental health conditions or learning disabilities often face challenges during their time at university that prevent them participating on equal terms with their fellow students. Making your teaching more accessible doesn’t require you to dramatically transform your classroom practices or preparation, and it will benefit all your students – both those with and without disabilities. On this page, you can find inspiration for specific ways to improve the academic accessibility of your teaching. 

Teaching for everyone 

Accessible teaching starts with your preparation. When preparing your sessions, consider ways to make your teaching inclusive, such as providing a clear course structure, formulating clear learning outcomes or accommodating the use of learning aids. This doesn’t involve teaching in a completely new way; it just means that, by making a few adjustments, you can supplement your teaching and make it assessable to everybody. While these adjustments might be necessary for some, they will benefit everyone. And they will help to create an accommodating and inclusive learning culture. 

Preparing your material

Good preparation is the key to ensuring that your students can participate in your classes in the best possible way. All students benefit from having a clear overview of the course and knowing what to expect, but, for students with physical disabilities and mental health conditions, these things are vitally important. As a teacher, you can help support your students by:  

  • Making your teaching materials available in good time. Many students need to have the syllabus, timetable and PowerPoints in good time before teaching begins so that they can prepare more easily and get an overview of the course content. This will also help students to concentrate and to participate more actively in class. 
  • Using original, digital and accessible copies of material rather than scanned texts. Some students with disabilities use text-to-speech software in order to read a text. You can support these students by using and referring to original, digital material from AU Library or other research libraries and by sharing PDFs in a format that can by read aloud by OCR software. Read this guide to ensuring the accessibility of texts on Brightspace.
  • Using a range of modalities. In order to accommodate the students’ different ways of learning, you can combine text, image, sound and video formats into your teaching. You can also alternate between individual reflection and discussion of academic content in groups. To make sure that everyone has the required information, it is also a good idea to deliver key messages and important points both orally and in writing. 
  • Guiding or focusing the students’ preparation. Many students find it difficult to create an overview of a large syllabus from one class to the next. You can remedy this by giving the students a focus for their preparation and by explaining certain figures or concepts. You can also write a priority list for their preparation. Many students also find it helpful to watch a video on the subject in order to supplement their understanding. Read this suggestion for how you can formulate reading questions to help students prepare for class.
  • Being open to audio and video recordings. Some students with disabilities have a documented need to record classes in order to listen to or watch sections of the class again in calmer settings or in other contexts. It is the students’ responsibility to make the recordings. Read AU’s guidelines for streaming and recording videos.

Teaching your class

During your teaching session, there are different things you can do to make sure your class is academically accessible to your students. Starting and finishing your session well often makes a big difference. 

Starting your session 

  • Make the purpose of your session and activities clear. For all students, but particularly for those with disabilities, it is good to have an outline of what they can expect from the teaching activities. It can also be helpful to make the structure of the session clear in written form (on the course plan) and then repeat this orally at the beginning of the session. Read more about how to prepare an inclusive course plan.
  • Repeat the important points from last session. To create structure, you can start your teaching session with a summary of the important points from last session and then say what the plan is for the current session and why.  
  • Visualise your plan on an ongoing basis. It can be helpful for students if you visualise the plan for the session, for example by writing it on the board or on your PowerPoint slides, so that the content, structure and breaks are clear for the students. 

During your session 

  • Be ready to adjust your teaching and accommodate learning aids. To ensure that all students can participate fully in your class and in the exam, you may need to make adjustments and to accommodate the use of learning aids. For example, some students may need to work on their own or to take an extra break, which can vastly improve their learning potential. Some students may need to bring learning aids (such as a microphone), a service dog, or their own PC with reading/writing technology. Or they may require extra space for a wheelchair or mobility device
  • Make it clear when you are available for the students. For students with disabilities, it can be good to know when you are available outside the teaching hours. For example, you can set aside time for questions after each session or make it clear how and when you will reply to emails.  

Finishing your lesson  

  • Summarise the important points at the end of the session. All students need to be able to filter the large amount of academic information presented during a teaching session – whether or not they have a disability. In order to create an overview of the day’s information, you can summarise the most important points on your final PowerPoint slide. It can be helpful to mention if you haven’t managed to cover all the points on your plan for the session, and to clarify how you will get round to them. 
  • Connect the day’s topics to the next session and to previous themes. Consider how the students can continue to use and reflect on your teaching once your session is over. Many students with disabilities choose to read up on topics or complete exercises after the teaching session in order to navigate through an often large syllabus. It can therefore be a good idea to link the day’s topics to the next session or to connect the day’s teaching to previous themes when you conclude your session.  
  • Round-up with a quiz or a learning question. At the end of a session or course, you can make quiz or ask three questions about the most important points, which the students can answer in plenary, in groups or individually. Remember to follow up on the correct answers at the end or in the next session. Read more about how to prepare a quiz.

Worth considering 

  • Which activities can I use in order to include students with disabilities in my teaching sessions? 
  • How can I create structure and clarify the course’s learning outcomes so that the students know what to expect from the course and what its academic requirements are? When can I upload the teaching materials so that the students get them in good time?
  • When can I incorporate technologies, modalities and learning aids that can support students with disabilities in the classroom, during group work, and at the exam?


    Examples of practice

      Further reading

      Support for students

      Students on all degree programmes have the opportunity to access or apply for support schemes, such as student guidance, special educational support (SPS) or exam dispensation on the grounds of disability. 

      Want to improve your knowledge or find inspiration?  

      If you would like to learn more about students with disabilities or inclusive teaching, you can make use of the reading list above or contact Academic Support (only available in Danish) or the Centre for Educational Support (CED). 

      This page has been produced in collaboration with Academic Support at AU.


      Please contact the editors at AU Educate if you have any questions about the content of the platform or if you need consultation on your teaching from one of the many skilled professionals at the Centre for Educational Development