Creating an inclusive learning environment

Remember, it's likely that there'll be students with a range of disabilities and conditions (disclosed and undisclosed) of different genders, ages and religions. 

Accessibility of resources

Materials available prior to teaching sessions: all students, including those with a modified assessment provision, benefit from being able to access teaching materials in advance of a session. The Teaching and Learning Committee (May 2008 and reviewed in January 2014) agreed that materials should be made available electronically at a minimum of 48 hours in advance of a session. The minimum standard to be adopted includes the following:

  • The outline and scope of a session
  • Preparatory reading
  • Key teaching materials e.g. PowerPoint presentations, support documentation, podcasts etc. should be uploaded in advance of the teaching session
  • This should be available a minimum of 48 hours before the teaching session, but a period of 7 days before the teaching session is recommended
  • All teaching materials must conform to the University’s guidance on copyright and intellectual property rights
You can achieve this by posting materials for sessions on the DLE. We know that in some circumstances it may not be possible to provide all materials in advance and academic staff may use their professional judgement; however this needs to be weighed against our obligation under the Equalities Act (2010) to make reasonable adjustments to prevent unfair treatment and to achieve equal opportunities for all our students.

Research has shown that posting of lecture materials in advance of the lecture does not have an impact on attendance. To view Babb & Ross (2009), go to http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360131508002029. Their findings suggest that attendance and participation are both improved by having slides available to students before classes.

By providing materials in advance of your teaching sessions, you'll help cater to individual working styles. You should also consider how you present your information e.g. the style of paper you're using, font and clarity of text.

Students with a Student Support Document will be able to record lectures and they'll sign a copyright declaration as part of their enrolment process.

Inclusive teaching environments and method

  • Some conditions are variable and can be affected by the time of day, medication or temperature; this may occasionally result in absences.
  • Any comments or questions from the group should be repeated by the tutor so that no information is missed.
  • Try and face the class as much as possible and avoid turning away to write while speaking.
  • Use microphones in lecture theatres wherever possible as Loop systems (for hearing impaired students) are dependent on this.
  • Verbalise any information you write, draw or show your class.
  • Write new terminology or unfamiliar names on the board.
  • Be mindful that some students may need to go out or have a break during sessions.
  • Encourage ground rules e.g. only one person can speak at a time.
  • Where possible give lists of specialist words with meanings.

Group work

Working well within a group is considered a key graduate skill but it's one that many students can find difficult to master. The following points can help make this learning process easier: 

  • Encourage group members to be open about any disabilities or specific learning difficulties they have and the implications that these may have for their group work.
  • Group arrangements sometimes require formal allocation to ensure that students don’t get left out.
  • Some groups may also need assistance with the allocation of roles.
  • Some groups may require a higher degree of informal supervision than others.
  • Suggest having a clear point of contact throughout the tasks, and a process for students to discuss concerns relating to disability and the group work.

Presentations

  • Please be mindful that some students may need reasonable adjustments due to a disability, providing the learning outcomes can be maintained.
  • Consider the environment that the student is presenting in, particularly for students with hearing impairments, visual impairments, speech and language difficulties or social phobias. An example of a reasonable adjustment would be to allow a student to present to a smaller group or solely to the tutor(s) involved.

Placements

  • If you're a placement tutor, you should have a pre-placement discussion with your students regarding placement issues e.g. location, accessibility, health and safety and other reasonable adjustments.
  • Placement tutors, staff and students can also liaise with Disability Services for further advice, information and guidance if needed.
  • Occasionally an enabler may be required to support a student on a placement. The placement tutor should liaise with Disability Services at an early stage to ensure appropriate support can be arranged.

Fieldwork and off campus activities

  • As a module leader you should discuss fieldwork content and off campus activities with students to establish any support requirements, if an enabler is needed, appropriate transport and health and safety.
  • Module leaders can then liaise with Disability Services if appropriate.

Enabling and study skills support

  • Some students may be receiving support which can include enabling (note taking, mentoring etc), learning support and communication support workers. Take a look at the University's enabling guidelines to find out more.

Modified assessment provision – for exams and in-class tests

  • Some students are recommended assessment provisions such as additional time or use of a smaller or separate room. These provisions are detailed on their Student Support Document as well as being recorded on Unit-E.
  • For in-class assessments, students can expect modified assessment provision (such as extra time) in line with those recommended in formal examination. However there may be some in-class assessments and environments where these modifications may not be appropriate or necessary. The module leader should discuss the format or style of the in-class assessment with the student in order to determine appropriate provision in good time. Please note that responsibility for modified in-class assessments rests with the department (module leader) concerned. 

Workshops, labs and studios

  • We recommend that you consider any health and safety requirements.
  • Please be mindful that some students may need reasonable adjustments due to a disability, providing the learning outcomes can be maintained.
  • Some students may require consideration regarding seating e.g. requiring a specific seat in a lab which is close to an exit or in a quieter area.
  • Some students may require additional space to work or an extra seat for an enabler.  

Alternative assessment

  • Due to their disability, some students may be unable to complete standard assessments. In these cases an alternative assessment is usually explored through the case conference process.

Know your University

  • Know what other information, advice and guidance is available to support your students, such as counselling, Library Special Support Services, SU Advice and Welfare, Chaplaincy, Disability Services and Learning Development.
  • Students who have a Student Support Document will be contacted by Library Special Support Services to discuss the support that they can offer.

More specific information about teaching requirements will be linked to the Student Support Document.