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Teaching students with disabilities

On this page, lecturers and persons with course responsibilities can find information about what they should consider when teaching students with different disabilities. As an educational institution, we are obligated to provide individual adaptation to make sure that everybody has equal opportunities to get an education at NTNU. Norsk versjon: Forelese for studenter med funksjonsnedsettelse

See also: Subject page about students with disabilities


Impaired vision #

Brochure - students with impaired vision (Norw. only)

There are different types and degrees of impaired vision, and the students use different vision corrective devices. You should speak to the student to find out what you can do and how you can pass on information to them in the best possible way.

Important information should be posted on It's Learning, sent by e-mail or given verbally. Avoid written notices on notice boards or on the door of the lecture room.

Before the start of studies

  • Some visually impaired persons are dependent on their syllabus being available by audio. Consequently, it is very important that the reading list is ready well before the start of the semester (approx. 2 months) in order for the Norwegian Library of Talking Books and Braille to produce the audiobooks in time.
  • Compendia must be of an adequate quality, in order for them to be converted to audiobooks or to be read by speech synthesis. When you collect content for compendia, it is important that you copy the text with the same orientation, that the entire text is included in the copy and that the print is clear and easily readable.
  • Electronic study materials are very helpful, as they enable the student to use different support materials like enlargement and speech synthesis. The optimal formats are .doc, RTF or HTML, but a text based PDF can be used if the layout and quality is good enough. Printed text can be scanned and OCR processed. Most multi machines are set up with OCR processing as the standard when scanning.
  • Avoid hand written study materials.

The lecture

  • Some students need support materials to be able to read. It is therefore a great advantage if the lecture materials are available in advance.
  • PowerPoint presentations should have fonts without serifs, like Arial. The font size should be relatively large, and there should not be too many disturbing elements like pictures and animations. If you use these types of elements, make sure to place the pictures away from the text and supply them with explanatory captions.
  • If you use the blackboard during your lecture, you should take care to provide sufficient contrasts and write as tidily as possible. Say what you write and what you are pointing at. Sufficient lighting is important; blackboard lighting can be very helpful for many students.
  • Some visually impaired persons can have difficulties taking notes during lectures. Therefore, they might benefit from having access to the lecturer's manuscript or PowerPoint presentation. If these are unavailable or insufficient, the student can contact the Special Needs Accommodation Service and apply for help taking notes.
  • Some students can benefit from making an audio recording of the lecture instead of taking notes. Students can borrow dictaphones from the Special Needs Accommodation Service. If you, as the lecturer, think it is necessary, you can point out to the student that the recording is for private use only.
  • Some visually impaired persons need more time reading and writing than other students, and might need more time on shorter assignments/tests.
  • Some students have guide dogs. These are necessary aids for their owners, and can be brought places where animals are normally not permitted.

Impaired hearing #

Brochure - students with impaired hearing (Norw. only)

  • It is very important that you, as the lecturer, use your microphone during lectures. Most lecture rooms are equipped with induction loops or infrared systems. These are speech amplifiers connected to the microphone, allowing the students to hear your voice through their hearing aids. Check the microphone's batteries before the lecture.
  • Some hearing impaired persons bring sign language interpreters to lectures. You should give the lecture in the same way as usual, but the interpreter might interrupt you to have something repeated. The interpreters need to prepare themselves before lectures, and will therefore establish a cooperation with you as the lecturer.
  • Sign language interpretation will usually happen with a slight delay. To compensate for this, you should wait a little bit before you ask questions to the audience, or before you change slides.
  • You should repeat or sum up questions and verbal contributions from the audience.
  • When speaking to a hearing impaired student, it is important to address the student and not the interpreter. Make sure to make eye contact before you speak.
  • In group work / exercises / study groups, it is beneficial if the groups are kept relatively small.

Reading and writing difficulties #

Brochure - students with reading and writing difficulties (Norw. only)

Students with reading and writing difficulties use more time to read and write. As a result, many of these students carefully plan their everyday studies to be able to get through the syllabus and compulsory activities before their exam. Structured teaching with organised lecture series and a good overview of the syllabus will make the situation easier for these students.

Tips:

  • When using PowerPoint presentations, make sure to leave the slides long enough for students who read slowly to finish reading them. It will also be helpful if you repeat the most important points on the slide.
  • A common challenge for students with reading and writing difficulties is to take notes while at the same time trying to pay attention to what is being said. Making notes, summaries or supplementary PowerPoints from the lectures available on It's Learning can be very helpful in that regard.
  • Some students can more easily absorb information through sound than through text. It can therefore be very helpful to be able to record the lecture. Students can borrow dictaphones from the Special Needs Accommodation Service. If you, as the lecturer, think it is necessary, you can point out to the student that the recording is for private use only.
  • Some students with reading difficulties use library equipment to make audiobooks from the books in the reading list. This is time consuming, which is why the reading lists should be available early enough for the student to get their audiobooks ready for the start of the semester. It is important that any compendia used are produced in good quality. Make sure that the text is copied with the same orientation, that the entire text is included in the copy and that the print is clear and easily readable.
  • For many students, foreign languages are particularly challenging. Any information you can give about Norwegian translations or Norwegian alternatives to foreign materials will be very helpful.
  • When working on written papers, the students are allowed to enclose an anonymous dyslexia certificate. This is a message to the examiner that the student has documented reading and writing difficulties, and that their orthography should not be emphasised when grading.
  • Many students experience that their writing difficulties make it difficult for them to sufficiently display their knowledge. In some cases, they can therefore apply for an alternative form of examination, e.g. an oral examination instead of a written one. In these instances, the academic environment will be involved to determine if this can be allowed without giving the student an academic advantage/disadvantage.

ADHD #

Brochure - students with ADHD (Norw. only)

  • As part of their effort get better structure and order, the students will benefit from a detailed semester schedule with an overview over the topics for discussion for each lecture, together with an overview of the reading list with information about which pages are important to read.
  • Lecture notes should be posted in advance to give the students an overview of the lecture.
  • Written information can be easier to absorb than verbal information. Use It's Learning, and repeat the information several times.
  • Given the fact that students with ADHD have difficulties keeping their concentration over longer periods of time, they can benefit from varied lectures with active student participation.
  • Group work can be challenging, as it requires initiative and independence. Initiative is not necessarily a natural characteristic for people with ADHD, so the academic environment should discuss alternative activities with the student, if necessary. On the other hand, group work can be motivating, as it encourages cooperation and initiative that they otherwise struggle to initiate on their own.

Asperger syndrome #

Brochure - students with Asperger (Norw. only)

  • To avoid misunderstandings in conversation and teaching, it is important to explain one issue at a time, in a detailed, concrete and to the point manner. Irony and metaphors can create misunderstandings, and should be avoided.
  • Visualisation and the use of examples are beneficial, and will make issues more concrete and understandable for these students.
  • Lecture notes should be posted in advance to accommodate the need for clarity and predictability.
  • Written information is easier to absorb than verbal information.
  • As part of their effort get better structure and order, the students will benefit from a detailed semester schedule with an overview over the topics for discussion for each lecture, together with an overview of the reading list with information about which pages are important to read.
  • Group work can often be challenging, as this requires good social and communicative skills. Since these are some of the skills that these students struggle with, it is important that the academic environment can discuss possible alternatives with the student, if necessary.

Psychological dysfunctions #

  • There are several different diagnoses. Each student is the expert on their psychological dysfunction, so it is beneficial to create a dialogue with the student to gain the best possible understanding of the situation.
  • Students with psychological dysfunctions often experience good and bad periods. In their bad periods, the students can benefit greatly from being granted extended deadlines on assignments and exercises.
  • There are indications that the number of students with psychological dysfunctions is increasing. Many of these students are often absent, and some are frequently admitted to psychiatric hospitals. It is beneficial to make video recordings of lectures and post these on the internal network, in order for these students to be able to follow the lectures. Contact the Multimedia Centre to facilitate this.
  • Written information can be easier to absorb than verbal information. Use It's Learning.
  • Some students suffer from anxiety, which can be related to achievements and social situations. Consequently, during lectures and group work / exercises, these students might ask to be exempted from giving presentations in class. A possible solution can be to allow the student to give their presentation to a smaller group of students, or to you alone.

Physical challenges #

  • Make sure that the lecture room is available for the student. If the room is not suitable for disabled access, contact the academic administration (in Norwegian), which is responsible for room planning, and ask them to switch rooms.
  • If the student is experiencing difficulties using necessary equipment during teaching activities, e.g. in the lab, the NAV Assistive Technology Centre might be able to provide equipment to solve the problem. Contact the Department Student Adviser or the Special Needs Accommodation Service.
  • Avoid paper sign-up sheets for study groups. Some physically challenged students might not be able to sign up on these. Enabling students to sign up on It's Learning is a better solution.
  • For excursions, it is important to consider whether special transport or other accommodation is necessary. Speak to the student and clarify any special needs before the excursion.
  • Some students might have a physical challenge that makes it difficult to take notes during lectures. Making sure that notes, summaries or supplementary PowerPoints from the lectures are available on It's Learning can be very helpful in that regard. If this is impossible or insufficient, the student can apply to the Special Needs Accommodation Service for help with taking notes.
  • Some students get regular physical treatment or might be admitted to treatment facilities in periods. This might necessitate delayed assignment submission deadlines. Likewise, video recordings of the lectures are very helpful in order for these students to follow the lectures when they are unable to attend. Contact the Multimedia Centre to facilitate this.

Contact #

If you have students with diagnoses that are not mentioned above, or if you have other questions, please contact the Special Needs Accommodation Service:
E-mail: tilrettelegging@adm.ntnu.no
Phone: 73 59 52 00

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