Working With Students with Disabilities


Confidentiality/Privacy is a top priority.

Please remember that it is up to the student to disclose his or her disability. Avoid calling any special attention to the student or mentioning the fact that he/she is receiving accommodations in front of others. For more information, refer to Confidentiality of Disability-Related Records.

The individual comes first.

When speaking about a student with a disability, use language that refers to the person first and foremost, and the disability second. Referring to or defining the student in terms of his or her disability, (e.g., "a blind student" rather than "a student with a visual impairment") can limit him/her. Avoid referring to the student as the condition itself, such as "an epileptic" or "a paraplegic."

The student is usually the best source of information.

Students know what accommodations are needed to assist him/her to succeed in your class or program. Disabilities Services encourages the student to discuss his/her accommodations with faculty and staff members. Ask the student in a private conversation how best to provide support.

Interact with the student with a disability as you would with any other student.

The use of everyday language like, "I see," "Did you hear about" or "running/walking," etc. when talking with a student with a physical disability is completely acceptable.

Use varied instructional methods appropriate for diverse learning modes.

Designing instruction and activities appropriate for diverse learning modes improves access for students with disabilities. More information about this concept of "Universal Design of Instruction" is available from DO-IT.