Making learning more accessible for Students with a Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD)

Written material and Power Point

Remember that the student is struggling to make sense of what is on the page, so lay everything out as clearly as possible.

  • Use a clear, sans serif font such as Arial or Verdana
  • Use print size 12 as a minimum
  • Don’t crowd information together, use spaces to make it clearer to follow; use double line spacing
  • Avoid underlining or italics, use bold or colour for highlighting
  • Use a coloured background or paper as black on white causes glare for many readers (not just dyslexic)
  • Use bullet point format in preference to dense text
  • Use plain English and avoid unnecessary jargon
  • Avoid using UPPER case words; they are less easy to read
  • Do not justify text to the right
  • Avoid ambiguity

Lectures

  • Make lecture notes available in advance to allow students time to prepare
  • Make notes available on Blackboard so that those who are poor at note taking have something to refer to
  • Encourage students to record lectures – some students find the spoken word more accessible
  • Outline the content of the lecture at the start so that students know what the context is
  • Allow time for information to be written or copied down – many students write slowly
  • Give plenty of opportunity for students to ask questions
  • Present information in a variety of formats: flow charts, diagrams
  • Summarise the content of the lecture so that students can check that they have picked up all the major issues

Working with students

It is wise not to make any assumptions about the student before you get to know them; the range and extent of their particular difficulties will emerge as you work with them. The following may help.

  • Provide a directed reading list with very specific guidance (chapters or specific paragraphs) to ensure that students with slow reading speeds access the key information
  • Provide a glossary of key terms or specialist language that students will encounter during the course (or advise students where this can be found)
  • Use a variety of teaching methods
  • Be explicit and specific about what is required from the student
  • Allow students to select from a range of styles of work when possible such as presentation/report/essay
  • Be sensitive, some students are acutely embarrassed by the difficulty they have with tasks which seem to be easy to others
  • Repetition aids learning – explaining something once probably won’t be sufficient
  • Break things down into small ‘chunks’ of information which can be easily digested
  • Use coloured pens to separate and connect pieces of information and encourage the student to do this for him/herself
  • Try to involve the student in multisensory learning, eg ask the student to explain something back to you, to draw a diagram, write out a formula, etc
  • Experiment with the student to establish if they learn best by listening to you explain, by reading an explanation and digesting it by discussion with you, by drawing a diagram to use as a memory prompt
  • Where possible please provide early notification of any changes i.e. to timetables, deadlines etc.
  • When marking;
    • Read fast, looking for ideas and understanding
    • Make constructive comments
    • Identify errors clearly so that the student can learn from the correction
    • Look for evidence of course reading
    • Try to give feedback in person