Accommodating learning disabilities in your classroom: how you can ensure everyone gets the most out of your training courses
Great courses are inclusive
Great courses are inclusive courses, and if you aren’t supporting learners with learning disabilities and difficulties, you are doing a massive disservice to a large proportion of your potential audience.
With around 2% of the population having a learning disability, it is vital your courses are optimized to accommodate them and ensure your learners are not at a disadvantage.
We’ve compiled a list of ways you can support those with learning difficulties on your courses to ensure everyone is given the same opportunities to success.
1. Break Learning into Small Steps
Long winded instructions can be difficult to process, especially so for individuals with learning disabilities. This can be overcome with a technique called ‘Chunking’.
Essentially, this means breaking up instructions into smaller, more manageable chunks.
This works well for several reasons.
When a task is broken down into ‘steps’ it immediately becomes more manageable. For students with learning disabilities who may struggle with processing, being able to see the overall task broken down in such a way allows them to tackle each step at a time.
This is also useful for the trainer, as it allows them to locate any parts of the task or project that are exceptionally difficult for the individual. It gives more opportunity for feedback between learner and teacher without overwhelm and fatigue setting in, which can be a killer for learning.
2. Use Visual Aids to Support Learning
We all have a preferred learning style, and students with learning disabilities may find it difficult to visualise or ‘imagine’ something you are explaining. Supplying visual aids in the form of diagrams, graphics and pictures can help clarify understanding and cement learning.
3. Carry Out Demonstrations
For students who might struggle with processing sound and language, providing a visual demonstration of a task can be an invaluable teaching method. Even with written instructions and diagrams, it may be more effective to actively demonstrate something in front of your learners to allow them to absorb the task at hand.
4. Identify Key Words
It’s all too easy to fly into a lesson without clarifying vocabulary. Just because you know the terms, or you believe half of the class does, doesn’t mean that there may be others who don’t. Take a few minutes at the beginning of the lesson to outline and define key words that will be used. Better yet, provide the class with a glossary, or get them to make their own, for future reference.
5. Be approachable!
We know you are already, but it’s always good to remember that it may be difficult for some of your learners to ask for help. This could stem from embarrassment, shame or apathy. Take the opportunity to regularly ‘touch base’ with students. Ask them if they need help and let them know that you’re there and ready to support them if they do. Don’t talk down to them or make them feel stupid for not getting something.
6. Switch Up Your Resources
No doubt you’ve spent many hours compiling your training resources – but how varied and accessible are they? If you can record lectures AND provide a transcript, you can cater to different learning styles and allow students to revisit them at a later date.
Not only that but be flexible with how you allow learners to engage and learn. Some may prefer to take notes, others may draw pictures, while others may prefer to just listen. Be accommodating and switch up your style periodically so you know you’re giving them as much support as possible.
7. Ask for feedback
At the end of your course, ask for feedback. This should be a standard practice, but one question that you need to be including in your post-course survey is ‘Do you feel the course was inclusive and accessible’. This can shine a very stark light on your course, but don’t feel down hearted. Use feedback to inform further courses.
Whatever you do, when you’re designing your courses be sure to keep them as inclusive as possible. By using the above tricks and ensuring you get to know your learners you can ensure that you give everyone in your classroom the same opportunities for success as their peers.