Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
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The Stanford Office of Accessible Education provides many accommodations, such as books on tape, material in Braille, large print documents, etc. However, there are many ways that instructors can support their students' learning:
- Provide digital versions of documents, such as your syllabus and assignment sheets, so that they can be used in alternate formats. It is also important to provide the SOAE with class material in advance. By sending the OAE the syllabi for your classes early, students with disabilities have a better chance of having their books on time for the beginning of the quarter. This can take weeks; the earlier a student can order books on tape, braille, or large print text, the better.
- When selecting textbooks, it is helpful if the OAE can get a book that has already been put on tape from Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic. If it isn’t necessary to have a certain translation or edition, then using an edition of a text that has already been put on tape or in another alternative format will help significantly.
- If you're using any scanned PDFs for your course, you'll want to make sure that the documents are screen-reader compatible, otherwise known as OCR-compatible. To convert incompatible files to OCR format, go to OAE's SCRIBE Project website to learn more how to convert your files for free and on your own time.
- Any class materials that need to be put in alternative format such as handouts with graphics, reference material, or multimedia presentations need to be given to the OAE a minimum of one day in advance, so that the student will have the material in class or close to the date it was handed out.
- Practice multimodality in your instruction, offering forms of instruction in verbal, visual, and spatial modes. Some students may learn better in different kinds of learning environments than others, and flexibly adopting a range of approaches will create a more inclusive learning space.
- Build in opportunities for a break or even multiple small breaks during class.
- Students who use wheelchairs might request to meet elsewhere for office hours if it is difficult for them to get to your office—or if the building is inaccessible to them. Students with visual impairments might also request to meet elsewhere if they haven’t yet learned the route to the office. Offer flexible alternatives for office hour or conference meeting locations.
- Students with visual or hearing impairments may have a guide or hearing dog. You are not allowed to pet the dog while it is working.
- Avoid blanket statement "laptop" or technology bans in the classroom; students who need to use these devices may feel negatively impacted if they are singled out as students who are different than those who cannot use the tools in class.
- Students with disabilities are usually happy to answer questions you might have about their disability and specific needs. Don’t be afraid to ask.