Suggestions for Faculty working with Student with Learning Disabilities

Syllabus Tips –

Try to provide the students with a copy of the syllabus as soon as possible. This allows time for the student to get their materials converted to an alternative format if needed.

Provide a detailed syllabus that includes course objectives, weekly topics and classroom activities, required reading and writing assignments, and dates of tests, quizzes, and vacations. Leave a blank space for notes after the outline for each week's work.


Disability Syllabus Statement –

Please provide a disability syllabus statement because it provides an invitation to students who have disabilities to meet with the faculty member, normalizes the accommodation process by treating it as just another part of the course, and opens the lines of communication making the student feel more comfortable approaching faculty to disclose their disability and need for accommodation.


Please include this statement in your syllabi:

“Students with Disabilities: Students with disabilities are encouraged to meet with me in private to discuss their services and accommodations. Please bring your Accommodation Memo from the Disability Resource Center (DRC) to our meeting. This information will be kept confidential and will not affect your grade.


Also, students who think they could use support from the Disability Resource Center for temporary or permanent conditions, or if you suspect you might have a learning disability, please contact their office at: (650) 306-3259 or visit 5-303 to make an appointment.”


Rules Clarification –

Clarify rules in advance: how students will be graded, whether makeup tests or rewrites of papers are allowed, what the conditions are for withdrawing from a course or getting an incomplete. These should be included in the syllabus.


Reviews and Previews –

It is extremely helpful if the instructor briefly reviews the major points of the previous lecture or class and highlights main points to be covered that day. Try to present reviews and previews both visually and orally.


Study Aids –

Use study aids such as study questions for exams or pretests with immediate feedback before the final exam.


Multi-sensory Teaching –

Students with learning disabilities learn more readily if material is presented in as many modalities as possible (seeing, speaking, doing.) Provide opportunities for touching and handling materials that relate to ideas. Cutting and pasting parts of compositions to achieve logical plotting of thoughts is one possibility.


Visualization –

Help the student visualize the material. Visual aids can include overhead projectors, films, carousel slide projectors, chalkboards, flip charts, computer graphics, and illustrations of written text.


Use color –

Some examples: In teaching respiration technology, everything related to the body's respiratory system might be highlighted in green and the digestive system in orange. In complex mathematical sequences, use color to follow transformations and to highlight relationships.


Announcements –

Whenever possible, announcements should be in oral and written form such as deadlines for assignments or exam dates. This is especially important for changes in assignments or exams.


Distinct Speech –

Speaking at an even speed, emphasizing important points with pauses, gestures, and other body language, helps students follow classroom presentations. Avoid lecturing while facing the chalkboard.


Eye Contact –

This is important in maintaining attention and encouraging participation.


Demonstration and Role Play –

These activities can make ideas come alive and are particularly helpful to the student who has to move around in order to learn.


Breaks –

Make sure to give breaks in class to help students stay focus and engaged.


Other Tips

  • Emphasize new or technical vocabulary.
  • Assist the student in teaming up with a classmate to obtain copies of notes.
  • Allow time for students to work in small groups to practice, to solve problems, and to review work.
  • Break down teaching into small units. Short daily reading assignments will help the student with learning disabilities learn how to budget and organize study time. Build up to longer units.
  • Teach students memory tricks and acronyms as study aids. Use examples from current course work and encourage students to create their own tricks.
  • Encourage students with learning disabilities to sit in front of the classroom.
  • Give feedback. Errors need to be corrected as quickly as possible.
  • Read aloud material on the board or on transparencies.
  • Remind students often of your availability during office hours for individual clarification of lectures, reading, and assignments.
  • Periodically offer tips and encourage class discussion of ways for improving studying such as organizational ideas, outlining techniques, summarizing strategies, etc.
  • Permit use of a calculator when mathematical disability is severe.
  • Permit the use of a dictionary or spell checker for essay exams.
  • In exam questions, avoid unnecessarily intricate sentence structure, double negative and questions embedded within questions.
  • Give less weight to spelling when the disability is severe.
  • Provide additional scratch paper for exams to help students with overly large or poor handwriting.
  • Encourage students to use a word processor with a spell check.
  • Encourage students to dictate best ideas into a tape recorder before writing a report.


DRC welcomes questions and partnering with classroom faculty so we can support you in your efforts to accommodate a student with a disability. Individual consultations with our highly qualified DRC staff are most welcome and available to all Cañada College faculty and staff on any disability-related issue. We look forward to collaborating with you.


For additional information, please contact:

Jenna French, Learning Disabilities Specialist / DRC Counselor, (650) 306-3368,