Disability Services

Teaching Suggestions for Faculty

Faculty play a critical role in helping students who may have learning disabilities by referring them to a trained specialist. Once identified, faculty can develop "academic adjustments" that will permit students with learning disabilities to fully access lecture and course materials.

  • Encourage students to make appointments during office hours. Ask students with disabilities how you as a faculty member can assist in facilitating course material.
  • Provide students with a detailed course syllabus. Include the disability statement on the course syllabus.
  • Clearly spell out expectations before course begins (e.g., grading, material to be covered, and due dates.)
  • Start each lecture with an outline of material to be covered that period. At the conclusion of the class, summarize key points.
  • Speak directly to students, and use gestures and natural expressions to convey further meaning.
  • Present new or technical vocabulary on the blackboard or use a student handout. Terms should be used in context to convey greater meaning.
  • Give assignments both orally and in written form to avoid confusion.
  • Announce reading assignments well in advance for students who are using taped materials. It takes an average of four weeks to get a book tape recorded.
  • If possible, select a textbook with an accompanying study guide for optional student use.
  • Provide adequate opportunities for questions and answers, including review sessions.
  • Allow students to tape record lectures to facilitate their note taking. In some instances, this will be an essential accommodation.
  • Provide, in advance, study questions for exams that illustrate the format, as well as the content of the test. Explain what constitutes a good answer and why.
  • If necessary, allow students with learning disabilities to demonstrate mastery of course material using alternative methods (e.g., extended time limits for testing, oral exams in a separate room).
  • Permit use of simple calculators, scratch paper, pocket spellers, and dictionaries during exams (no programmable calculators!).

Welcome to the Disability Services at Penn State Altoona. At Penn State, we are committed to providing a welcoming, encouraging, and empowering environment for students with disabilities to ensure equal access, full participation and reasonable accommodations for their academic pursuits. Disability Services is responsible for coordinating support services, reasonable academic accommodations, and promoting disability awareness in the university community. I encourage you to consider participation on the Penn State Altoona Disability Services Advisory Board if you would like to have a more active role in enhancing the services to students at Penn State Altoona who receive services. Please contact Dr. Joy Himmel at jyh1@psu.edu for additional information.