A group of students sitting around a desk in an academic English class talk to a teacher

Managing inclusive learning environments - Using visual aids

Powerpoint and other presentation tools

  • Powerpoint is the most commonly used tool for designing and delivering slide presentations, but also consider alternatives such as Prezi or Piktochart.
  • Remember to use a readable, sans serif font (e.g. arial), minimum size 24pt.  Stick to a basic colour palette with high contrast light backgrounds and dark text. Enhance slides by using graphs and images where appropriate, and avoid using text-heavy slides. For guidance on developing inclusive Powerpoint slides, see this guide from Learnhigher.
  • Consider enhancing slide presentations by introducing multimedia, and by enhancing digital content. See the JISC guide on creating and enhancing digital content.

White/blackboard and visualisers

  • Check that your students can read your writing.
  • Opt for the visualiser where possible, as it may be easier to check for visual cues of your students’ understanding of the content as you go.
  • When using the black or white board, remember to keep a list of main/summary points on one side as you go along.
  • Always allow enough time for your students to take notes, and check before erasing something.
  • The Faculty of Natural Science has created instructional videos on the use of AV, including visualisers


  • Skeleton handouts provide a bare outline of the lecture structure with some key statements and main references and can be produced on one side of A4. This can be a useful aid to student note-making and helps students to follow the structure of the lecture.
  • Gapped handouts provide a more complete account of the lecture, but to keep students active, miss out carefully chosen sections. Examples which work well include axes of graphs, key stages in mathematical proofs, dates or labels on diagrams. Notes created this way can be personalised by individual students but they also give them time to listen and think rather than copying all the time. Students (especially those with dyslexia or for whom English is not their first language) can find gapped handouts challenging if you continue speaking and just expect them to spot the gaps, complete them and keep listening so it is better to use the gaps as an opportunity to pause and allow the students to concentrate.
  • Key information handouts could just include key information such as complex diagrams, maps, formulae, quotations and references. These handouts ensure key information is not missed or copied incorrectly and help with note-taking whilst allowing the lecturer more flexibility in the flow of the lecture.

Using props and artefacts

  • Using props and artefacts can be an effective way of bringing concepts to life.
  • Think about using models, lab equipment, or other real-world artefacts that may help your students understand and engage with the content more.
  • Always ensure that your students can all see the artefact; either pass it around the class if appropriate, or move around the room so that all students have at least visual access to it.
  • Artefacts and props brought in class may be distracting for some students; keep props hidden until necessary.
  • Allow enough time for your students to examine the artefacts/props; be aware that it may be difficult for students to pay attention to your talk while paying attention to the artefact/prop at the same time.