Teaching disabled students at Imperial College
Imperial College welcomes and encourages applications from disabled students and disabled students are currently studying subjects across all faculties, with numbers increasing every year. Many of our students have unseen disabilities, with increasing numbers having an enduring mental health issue, Autistic Spectrum Condition or Specific Learning Difficulty, such as Dyslexia. As a college, we want to ensure that all students have equal access to the learning experience.
The term "special needs" is unhelpful at this leave of study, as disabled students are not "special". They have achieved a place at Imperial on their merits and their needs are the same as any other students in that all students need access to the teaching environment and to the information that is being presented or discussed. Therefore teaching spaces, teaching materials and styles should by well designed or adapted to provide that access for all (universal design). At this level, teaching strategies which are effective for disabled students are also effective for non-disabled students.
- Use and allow the use of appropriate technology: PA system, induction loops, PANOPTO or other digital recording devices.
- Have all hand-outs and presentations available on Blackboard, well labelled and in advance.
- Manage discussions and question and answer sessions to enable all to participate and make explicit what is required.
- Ensure you are aware of any additional requirements of your students and have an understanding of support needed.
Understanding how a particular disability could affect an individual may help you but, generally, you won't need in depth medical information. Details of how the individual student is affected will be sufficient. There may be occasions when you feel that it would be useful to familiarise yourself with the effects of a particular disability but it is important not to make generalisations. Every student is different and their disability will affect them differently from another student with the same condition.
Points to remember:
- Talk to the student to find out what works best for them in terms of adjustments.
- Check with the DAS that we have the necessary evidence to enable exam adjustments to be made.
- Publish clear, concise and justifiable Competency Standards for your course on the web. This will help the student to understand where adjustments can or cannot be made.
- Ensure you follow the principles of Universal Design when setting your course requirements.
- Ensure that your webpages meet accessibility standards.