Teaching Tips

Ask the Experts: How Do I Better Include Students With Disabilities in My K–12 Class?

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Q: How do you approach a K–12 class when one of your students has a disability?

A: Growing up watching my deaf sister get left out of conversations made me sensitive to ensuring everyone in my classroom feels included. If you have a student who is disabled, you'll need to put in a little extra effort to make sure they're a full part of your class. But it's worth it, and it will benefit all of your students.

With a hard-of-hearing or deaf student who reads lips, for instance, it's important that they can always see your face. Don't speak too fast, and enunciate clearly. Clear instructions are great for all learners. If you are demonstrating, don't talk and demo at the same time. The deaf student won't be able to see your face if you're dancing. When I taught tap to the dance group at Gallaudet University (a private university for the education of the deaf and hard of hearing), I made a point of using my hands to demonstrate what my feet were doing. I always kept my hands near my face, making it easier for the dancers to take in both my lips and my hands simultaneously.

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