Monday, November 5, 2012

Supporting Students with Learning Disabilities

Not all students are forthcoming about letting others know that they have learning disabilities which makes supporting these students difficult for online instructors. 

Some suggestions for ways online instructors can support students with disabilities:

  • Open and constant communication

o   Feedback on assignments – an opportunity to maintain communication
o   Contacting a student that is not participating in the discussions/forums and asking if they understood the assignment or had any questions
o   Making it clear when the instructor is available for questions and/or help

  • Compassion and a willingness to bend the rules

o   Extension of deadlines for those who need extra time to complete
o   Working with disabilities services to help students get access to assistive software
o   Working individually with the struggling student
o   Refer a struggling student to support services such as tutoring

  •   Pay attention to course elements that might be problematic for some students

o   Make sure the text is distinguishable from the background colors
o   Provide closed captioning or a transcript for videos

  •  Ask the disabilities services department to look at your course for accessibility issues in order to prevent problems before they happen
Kelly, R. (2009). How to handle learning disabilities in the online classroom. Online Cl@ssroom: Ideas for Effective Online Instruction, 1-3. Retrieved from

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