The Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University (see the link below) provides some helpful strategies to implement supports for students with disabilities, including students with physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, and learning disabilities. An increasing number of students with different types of disabilities are being educated in general education classrooms at the elementary, secondary, and college levels. To make the classroom more inclusive for these students, teachers and professors can offer the following types of support:
- Physical changes, such as enabling students with physical disabilities to do lab work
- Changes in the types of assessments given (for example, allowing students with written language disorders to have an oral rather than written tests)
- Support through the use of additional teachers or paraprofessionals (see the article by Giangreco et al., below)
- Other modifications or changes in the classroom or expectations
These are not the only modifications and supports that can be given to students with disabilities; it is just a representative sample.
It is important to implement these strategies in a way that is respectful of the student and minimally invasive to them and to other students. The Vanderbilt website offers guidance to teachers and professors about how to meet with students to determine which supports they need and how to assess which course expectations are essential to a class. Additionally, it is important to identify which course expectations can be modified so that the student can still accomplish the goals of the class while the teacher accommodates that student's differences.
In addition, the Vanderbilt site explains the principle of "Universal Design," which involves designing course materials and establishing expectations in a way that makes them as inclusive as possible. This is beneficial not only to students with disabilities, but to all students. An example is presenting information through multiple modalities (print, video, voice, and so on) so that students who learn through different modalities can access and absorb that information.
Michael F. Giangreco, Stephen M. Broer, and Susan W. Edelman. (2002). “That Was Then, This Is Now!”: Paraprofessional Supports for Students With Disabilities in General Education Classrooms. EXCEPTIONALITY, 10(1), 47–64.